All posts by Inge Morath Estate

Claudia Guadarrama: Before the Limit

Claudia Guadarrama (Mexico): Before the Limit
Inge Morath Award Recipient, 2004

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“He who has seen hope, will never forget it. He seeks for it under every sky and among all men. And he dreams that one day he will find it again, He doesn’t know where maybe among his own kin. In each and every human being is the possibility to be or more accurate, to be again another man.” – Octavio Paz

Every day hundred of undocumented migrants mostly from Central American countries try to cross Mexico on a journey fraught with danger, risking their lives to fulfill the dream of a better life as workers in the United States. This journey through Mexico begins in Chiapas at the shared border between Mexico and Guatemala, where migration controls are minimal; being a very rough geographic zone where migrants can easily cross illegally. There are no official records about the number of people crossing the Mexican border illegally everyday; the only official data is the number of migrants detained by Mexican authorities and send back to their original country. This year, 96,013 illegal migrants were caught crossing the Chiapas border, 44.5% of the total amount of detention in the whole of the Mexican territory. Continue reading Claudia Guadarrama: Before the Limit

Ami Vitale: Kashmir

Ami Vitale (USA): Kashmir
Inge Morath Award Recipient, 2002

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The Himalayan region of Kashmir, nestled between India and Pakistan has been called “a paradise on earth” ever since the 16th century when Mughal emperors discovered its pristine beauty and made it their summer capital. Indians took their annual pilgrimages to escape the heat of the oppressive, dusty plains and British colonizers found their way around a law that prohibited outsiders from owning land by building floating houseboats on the idyllic lakes. Today Kashmir is more famous for being the axis of relations between India and Pakistan, a “nuclear flashpoint” that could spark an unthinkable war in South Asia.

The conflict has eroded much that once defined Kashmir. Hindus and Muslims once shared neighborhoods, schools, and close friendships, but nearly all the Hindus fled Indian-governed Kashmir after being threatened by Muslim militants, and are now scattered across India. Sufism, which exerted a gentle influence on Kashmiri Islam for more than a dozen generations, has been gradually pushed aside by the fanatical Sunni Islam practiced by militants from Pakistan. For centuries, Kashmir’s Mughal gardens and wooden houseboats offered diversions to weary rulers. But leisure has vanished from Kashmir. No one visits, and fear has tainted the lives of those who make their homes amid its apple and apricot orchards, in its meadows and in the creases of its mountains. Continue reading Ami Vitale: Kashmir

A Llama in Times Square (1957)

A Llama in Times Square (1957)

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Like many of the iconic images for which she is recognized, Inge Morath’s A Llama in Times Square originated in a magazine assignment. In its December 2, 1957 issue, LIFE magazine published a one-page story, in its humorous Animals section, entitled High-paid llama in big city. The story was about a menagerie of television animals—including, in addition to the llama, large and small dogs, cats, birds, a pig, a kangaroo, and a miniature bull—living at home with their trainers in a Manhattan brownstone.

The story in LIFE featured three photographs by Morath, including a cropped close-up of Linda the Llama. Curiously, the caption accompanying the closeup describes the llama as ogling from the window of a taxi on her way to make a television appearance. In fact, she was in the back seat of her trainer’s car, and, as Morath explains, on her way home from the studio when the picture was taken. Morath’s full caption reads, “Linda, the Lama (sic) rides home via Broadway. She is just coming home from a television show in New York’s A.B.C. studios and now takes a relaxed and long-necked look at the lights of one of the world’s most famous streets.” In Morath’s work chronology, her contact sheets for the story are marked “57-1,” indicating that this was her first assignment in the year 1957. On the back of a vintage work print of the iconic picture, Morath has inscribed the caption, “57-1.That’s when that was—driving around with Linda the Llama.”

Nevertheless, a selection of snapshots taken by an unknown photographer, showing Morath posing with the llama and her trainers and photographing them on a New York City street, are all dated 1956 in Morath’s hand. These indicate that she had spent a great deal of time getting to know her subjects, and may even have been responsible for “pitching” the story to LIFE well in advance of the time it was published. Such was Morath’s typical working method. Since its original publication in LIFE, A Llama in Times Square has been exhibited and republished extensively, taking on a life of its own. The photograph is undoubtedly the most recognizable and beloved of Inge Morath’s iconic images, having been seen everywhere from classrooms and calendars to museum walls and even Oprah Winfrey’s O magazine. Viewed alone, it appears to have been a perfect example of being in the right place at just the right moment. In fact, as Morath’s contact sheets show, it was the result of considerable work and forethought. An appearance of spontaneity, masking the reality of careful planning, is one of the prime characteristics of Morath’s work as photojournalist, and shows the degree of comfort that she was able to establish with her subjects while working on their stories.

Text by John P. Jacob, Writer and Curator
(Original text appears in Magnum Contact Sheets)

The Misfits (1960)

The Misfits (1960)

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Extracts from an interview with Inge Morath by Gail Levin

The coverage of The Misfits was a very special thing. The producer had a unique idea of creating a document about the shooting of this movie, for which he hired Magnum photographers. We were paired up and I was going to photograph with Henri Cartier-Bresson. We planned to go across the country. I didn’t know much about America at all, so we rented a car and went a very complicated route; Blue Ridge Mountains and Mississippi and we saw all the literary sights.

Anyway we arrived in Reno, which is so American and so western. It’s just marvelous to look at, and I was so intrigued because in the hotel room there was a machine and you could make your own coffee in the morning. I’d never seen such a thing. This was exotic. And naturally, being such an American movie, it was also exotic to us. So we approached it from our very European point of view, which was fun. We started early, often waited for very long times, and finished quite late; and it got hotter and hotter. Henri and I had worked together before, so we were never in each other’s way. Because two photographers on one movie could be really falling over each other. But we had very different territories and interests, at least in the approach to something.

Everybody has a certain distance at which he or she is most comfortable. There is a certain way of seeing the same thing in a different composition, or from a very different angle. I’m one who always wanders around a lot, always looking. And so does Henri, but boy is he fast. Wow. John Huston I’d worked with before. He was terrific to me. My very first movie job was with him in Moulin Rouge and I worked with him several times later. Monty Clift was also a great friend of mine whom I adored. Thelma Ritter was marvelous because she anchored this very American thing. And Eli Wallach. Eli is a funny guy and a wonderful actor. Eli and Marilyn were like buddies, and you can see it. Monty and Marilyn were kindred souls. And Clark Gable was Clark Gable. Marilyn Monroe was marvelous to look at; there was a shimmery, mother-of-pearl quality totally her own. Since she quite frequently arrived hours late to the set, co-stars and crew would go off into a hot semi-drowsiness, but madly jumped to their feet at the first sight of her car. Her arrival was invariably felt like an electric shock. It was a fantastic world; we photographers were glad to be outsiders.

Clark Gable told me all his adventures in the movies. Clark was wonderful. He said, “I will inscribe your jacket for you.” So he wrote on the back of my collar, “Clark Gable, Reno, Nevada, July 21st, 60.” And he said, “You’d better have somebody embroider this so it won’t wash out.” I had it made in Paris, embroidered on the back of the collar. I was kind of in awe of Arthur Miller. I’d seen Salesman and The Crucible and I thought, oh God, this man will be very sad all the time. The first time I met him, it was very hot and John Huston took Henri and me to a pool where they were all swimming. We didn’t go in the pool because we were busy photographing. Arthur was swimming a backstroke, and he told a very funny story, swimming all the time. It really was a short story which he wrote about a guy who was making shoulder pads. I never heard of anyone making shoulderpads; that in itself was exotic. But it was a very funny story, and very long, and when he finished the story and got out of the water, I had a whole new idea about Arthur Miller being a funny fellow. © Inge Morath, 2001.

Text constructed from Morath’s notes and from a conversation with Gail Levin for Making the Misfits, © Great Performances, Thirteen/WNET, 2001.

The Road to Reno (1960)

Inge Morath: The Road to Reno

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Introduction by Arthur Miller

Frank Taylor, who was an old friend of mine, and who I inveigled into being the producer [of The Misfits], thought it would be a great idea to get Magnum to send over as many people as they could to photograph it. I didn’t know any photographers and I had no opinion about it; it was the last thing in the world I was worried about. Henri [Cartier-Bresson] and Inge decided to do a motor trip across the country [on their way to the set in Reno]. Both of them were Europeans, of course, and they thought that, driving across the country, they would run into all kinds of wonderful, different cooking experiences as they would in Europe. When confronted the inevitable hamburger everywhere, they were driven back to eating carrots and apples and tea.

The ’60s in America, of course, was the despair and the secret hope of a lot of European intellectuals. The freedom, the local inventiveness, the friendliness, charmed them. And Inge, I know, was pleasantly surprised by how dear the people were. Of course, most people were to her; she was very affectionate toward people, and they reacted in a similar way. However, it was a difficult trip because she couldn’t eat meat and Henri liked more delicate cooking. So they were driven half mad by the carrots and the apples and the tea. And they arrived in Reno half-starved and ready to go to work. Continue reading The Road to Reno (1960)

Romanian Journal

Inge Morath: Romanian Journal

“I love voyages. Voyages where the going from one place to the other informs, allows one to go deeper. One day, in May of the year 1958, it became clear to me that to follow the Danube from its source to its end was one of those inevitable voyages.”

Inge Morath’s dream of traveling the length of the Danube River, begun in 1958, was not realized until 1995. In 1958, six of the nations bordering the river were led by Communist governments which placed severe limitations on Western photojournalists. As she later wrote, “Either one was refused a visa right away, or one got one only good for transit, or for a stay of one to three days but with restrictions as to the places one could visit.” Morath was denied even a transit visa to Hungary. To her surprise, however, she received permission to travel and photograph in Romania twice during 1958. Continue reading Romanian Journal

Inge Morath & Arthur Miller: China

Inge Morath & Arthur Miller: China

In 1978, only two years after the end of the Cultural Revolution, Inge Morath and her husband, playwright Arthur Miller, were invited to travel to China. They returned again in 1979 and 1983. Morath made some of her best-known images during these visits. Inge Morath & Arthur Miller: China is an exhibition of photographs by Morath accompanied by excerpts from Morath’s and Miller’s journals; she with her knowledge of Chinese language, poetry, and history, and he with his interest in the politics of the present moment.

Thematically, Inge Morath & Arthur Miller: China describes the reflections of two Americans, “well disposed and trying to see and listen,” as Miller wrote. The exhibition portrays their experience of China’s culture through meetings with its most notable representatives: actors, writers, painters, and others, many of whom had suffered during the Cultural Revolution. Continue reading Inge Morath & Arthur Miller: China

The Road to Reno

Inge Morath: The Road to Reno

The Road to Reno is a document of the 18 day trip across the United States, from New York City to Reno, Nevada, made by Inge Morath and Henri Cartier-Bresson en route to the set of The Misfits in 1960. Developed into a screenplay from a short story that he’d written, The Misfits was an “offering” from playwright Arthur Miller to actress Marilyn Monroe. In 1958, Miller presented the script to John Huston, who had earlier worked with Monroe in The Asphalt Jungle, and he agreed to direct the film. Clark Gable, Montgomery Clift, and Eli Wallach signed on as the film’s co-stars, and producer Frank Taylor signed an exclusive contract with Magnum Photos to document the making of the film.

Photographers Henri Cartier-Bresson, a founding member of Magnum Photos from France, and the Austrian born Inge Morath, who became a Magnum member in 1955, were the first of nine photographers selected to work on the set of the film. It was Morath’s first trip across the US, and they followed a southern route drawn on a map in red grease-pencil by Cartier-Bresson, through Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, New Mexico, and California before heading north to Nevada. Continue reading The Road to Reno

School & Library Exhibition

Traveling School & Library Exhibition

In celebration of Inge Morath’s support for arts in education during her lifetime, the Inge Morath Foundation is pleased to announce the Traveling School & Library Exhibition program, a traveling exhibition of Inge Morath’s photographs. The exhibition presents 25 of Morath’s best known photographs, covering the full range of her work as an artist and photojournalist. The exhibition was developed with the interests of children in mind, and includes portraits, documents of near and faraway places, and images celebrating human creativity. While some schools have used the exhibition to supplement their arts programming, others have developed school-wide curriculum around it. The program was launched in January 2004, and has traveled to:

  • Kent School, Kent, CT (July 2004)
  • Rumsey Hall School, Washington Depot, CT (December 2004)
  • Dunbarton Elementary School, Dunbarton, NH (March 2005)
  • Souhegan High School, Amherst, NH (May 2005)
  • Milford High School, Milford, NH (June 2005)
  • Minor Memorial Library, Roxbury, CT (October 2005)
  • Chase Collegiate School, Waterbury, CT (November 2005)
  • Millbrook School, Milbrook, NY (January 2006)
  • Brooklyn Heights Montessori School, Brooklyn, NY (January 2007)
  • Taft School, Watertown, CT (February 2011)
  • Brimmer and May School, Chestnum Hill, MA (Spring 2011/tba)

“The Morath exhibit was a very positive experience for us. We felt lucky, indeed, to be chosen. The photographs looked wonderful in our library and inspired our students to look at photography in a new way.” Nancy Bennison, Goffstown High School The Traveling School & Library Exhibition: Photography by Inge Morath is framed and crated to museum standards, and is available free of charge to elementary and high-schools throughout the US. Frames are suitable for hanging, or the exhibition may be installed using sturdy aluminum stands provided by the Foundation. The exhibition is fully insured by the Inge Morath Foundation, and shipping is negotiable. If you are interested in participating in the tour of Inge Morath’s photographs, or if you have any questions about the program, please contact us: [email protected].

Selected Images (1949 – 2002)

Inge Morath: Selected Images (1949 – 2002)

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Inge Morath was a gifted photographer who could not resist infusing a touch of surrealism into her photographs. This playful element lifted her work above mere reportage by revealing the mysterious at work within the ordinary and the everyday. But there is a deeper thread that runs through Morath’s work, especially her larger projects, such as her photographs from Spain, the Middle East, Russia, or China, where, over a period of many years, she documented the clash between tradition and modernity.

Having lived through the devastation of the second World War, Inge Morath experienced its extended impact beyond geographical, political, and economic borders. She did not feel separated from her subjects by nationality or by religion. On the contrary, Morath’s knowledge of history and her facility with language allowed her to blend in. It resulted in her being invited into places where other outsiders might not be welcome. This is a key difference between her and many of her colleagues at Magnum, who preferred to keep a more “objective” distance from their subjects.

Another difference is the degree to which, in all of her larger projects, Morath focused on the ways in which the human spirit finds expression: through social and religious rituals, posturing and costuming, through work, sport, and through dance, music, art, and theater. When considered in its entirety, this thread that runs through Inge Morath’s work is an affirmation that, even under the most oppressive of circumstances, the human spirit endures through creative self-expression. Both her life, and her life’s work, constitute a declaration of that affirmation.