Category Archives: IM Stories

Stories by Inge Morath.

Inge Morath: Paris, 1957

Inge Morath: Paris, 1957

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A primary focus of the IM Foundation has been to showcase stories and images that offer us an in depth look into Inge Morath’s photographic career. During the 1950’s, Inge worked on many stories that were commissioned by magazines and publications. She used each as an opportunity to build upon her extensive personal work when she travelled and completed these assignments.

Inge Morath: Paris, 1957 presents a selection of some of these photographs from her archive. One of her extensive essays, consisting of more than 50 contact sheets, was initially commissioned by French magazine“L’Oeil.” It is unknown if it was actually published. In this small selection of 25 images, we hope to highlight Inge’s exploratory nature and her curiosity to understand the unique city of Paris.

This selection of images consists scans from both Inge’s original contact sheets and her vintage prints. We can see Inge capturing details and scenes that are simple but also offer an informative view into this prominent European city. She carefully examines and explores the city, with its grand, intricate buildings. Her clever but beautifully composed photos of Parisians with their surroundings create a mood that is both playful and quaint. Her images are not a travelogue, but offer her own personal perspective of a city she is familiar with. This feeling of familiarity allows the viewer to travel back or exist in those moments, even today.

Inge also documents the daily life of Parisians, young and old. Her interest in architecture of Paris gives a grand voice to the inanimate. The intentional play between these historical structures and the people is undeniable. She wants to represent Paris as an individual, alive with history, beauty, and quirkiness. A city famously known to be one the most romantic in Europe has here also been translated into a one that is rich and vibrant with culture, arts, and nostalgia.

– Sana Manzoor

Inge Morath’s Bal d’Hiver in Esopus 17

Inge Morath: Bal d’Hiver (1955)

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The Paris social season opened with a big, elegant splash last Tuesday. The Baronne de Gabrol, President of ESSOR, an association for the protection of France’s abandoned children, sponsored the Winter Ball, at which some of the most distinguished names in Europe amused themselves for the benefit of needy children.

So begins Inge Morath’s description of the Bal d’Hiver, a dance on ice performed by European royalty, in costumes donated by couturiers including Hubert de Givenchy and Christian Dior, and attended by an international roster of celebrities, from the Countess d’Paris to film star Charlie Chaplin. Photographed by Morath in 1955, this exquisite story of Parisian society has remained unpublished until now. The IM Foundation is pleased to announce that a selection of twenty photographs from the story, along with facsimile reproductions of Morath’s texts for Magnum Photos and a drop-out contact sheet, will appear in the forthcoming issue of Esopus magazine.

Esopus 17, will appear on newsstands in November, featuring artists’ projects by Acconci Studios, Alyson Shotz, and Adam Chodzko; the latest installments of “Modern Artifacts,” co-presented with the museum of Modern Art Archives, and “Guarded Opinions” (commentary by museum guards on the art they oversee); as well as new fiction, poetry, and 100 frames from Sergey Dvortsevoy’s “Tulpan,” introduced by fiction writer Jim Shepard. The issue also includes a CD of 13 new songs inspired by Esopus readers’ irrational fears.

First Color (1953 – 1965)

Inge Morath: First Color (1953 – 1965)

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“Rediscovering Inge Morath’s Early Color Photographs” by Mary Panzer.

The recovery of Inge Morath’s color work provides the opportunity to greatly expand our knowledge of Morath’s working techniques as a photographer. In some cases, although their original sequences have been lost, it is now possible to restore photo-essays from which the color pictures had been removed. In so doing, we gain a deeper insight into Morath’s method as we watch her decide when and where to use color film. We see when she recognized that only color could relay the message she wanted to send. 

We discover photographs that use color with wit and a sure touch, in a way that only Morath could achieve. No less crucially, when we open the door to Morath’s color photographs, her work allows us to consider the color work of an entire generation. The effort to see Morath’s work in its original context, on the pages of magazines such as Holiday, LIFE, and Paris March, leads us to discover how much color photography was published in the decades following World War II, even by those who insisted that they never worked in color, or never did so willingly – including all those who worked for Magnum Photos – during the 1950s and ’60s. Surely Inge Morath would have enjoyed the irony of this process. The work to which she leads us has always been there, hiding in plain sight, obscured by the acceptance of rules made long ago by men and women who never followed them in the first place. The work that Inge Morath kept, but never exhibited, now opens the door to a new kind of history, within which she shines.  

© Mary Panzer, 2009.

Excerpted from “The Complete Story – Black and White, and Color: Rediscovering Inge Morath’s Early Color Photographs,” in Inge Morath: First Color, Göttingen: Steidl, 2009.

Read the Afterword by John Jacob

Heute with Ernst Haas (1949)

Heute with Ernst Haas (1949)

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Introduction by Warren Trabant

In early 1948, as editor of Heute, a picture magazine published in Munich, I visited Vienna with the purpose of hiring someone to serve as my correspondent there. I chose a young lady with the most frightful hairdo and the brightest, most intelligent eyes I had ever encountered. She turned out to be a good correspondent. A few months later a packet of the most extraordinary pictures arrived on my desk. They depicted a pathetic group of Viennese mothers at a train station searching for their sons who had been taken prisoners of way by the Russians and who were being released at regular intervals at that time. The pictures were so very striking that I picked up the phone, called my Viennese correspondent, and asked if the photographer of these pictures would be available if I came to Vienna.

She said he most certainly would be. I was on the next train for Vienna. That night Inge Morath brought Ernst Haas to my hotel. We sat in the very elegant, empty basement bar of the Bristol Hotel (then occupied by the American Army) talking about photography, philosophy, life and whatever else came to our minds until early in the morning. As I recall we consumed an endless stream of fried shrimps and champagne which was all that was available in the hotel restaurant that night. Ernst worked for Heute from that day until I left the magazine two years later. During that first year I took him and Inge to Paris to meet my friend Bob Capa who, with his year old “association of photographers” he called Magnum, had been providing Heute with the finest pictures available in those days. Ernst was, of course, voted into Magnum, and Inge became a “researcher” for them. She eventually began taking her own pictures as well as writing, and she also became a Magnum member.

© Warren Trabant, August 1987

China (1978 – 83)

Inge Morath: China (1978 – 83)

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Introduction by Arthur Miller

This is not about the Cultural Revolution and its consequences, which, like the Thirty Years’ War in Europe, will be sifted by generations of scholars and made to confirm a thousand different conclusions. It is a witness, neither more nor less, of two people encountering the collapse of an orthodoxy at the very time when the faithful were emerging from the fallen temple with blinking eyes, trying to make out ordinary objects in the no longer charmed, unearthly light of ordinary days.

It is the moment when the great choirs of worshipers are stilled, when the mountains have ceased to dance (as some insist they did), and Necessity once again is deaf to all rhapsodic persuasions and will yield only to accountants and engineers, and the kind of people who may get things done but can never believe in what they cannot touch and see. And this too will pass into yet other permutations.

Here, then, is a bit of how it was for two people, well disposed and trying to see and listen, at the particular moment when the dust of the temple began to settle.

© Arthur Miller, from Chinese Encounters, New York: Farrar Straus Girous, 1979.

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)

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.

Portraits & Personalities (1955 – 2001)

Inge Morath: Portraits & Personalities (1955 – 2001)

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There is so much of my life in the faces in [these photographs]. If I had not looked into some of them my life would not have been the same. Quite a few of the faces I have known had to be left out of this collection and I do miss them. I asked to photograph these people because there was meaning for me in each of their persons, a feeling of closeness or admiration, a curiosity about them and their work, about how they carried their beauty or their fame, their isolation, their aging, their knowledge – in short, about how they faced the world. Most of these photographs were taken on my own initiative.

Occasionally this initiative was transformed into a gratefully accepted assignment by my having aroused the interest of an editor with the same inclinations. I like to go alone to these photographic meetings. A one-to-one meeting gives me the excitement of a first encounter, undiluted. In the ritual of getting acquainted, both people work harder at being seen as they wish to be seen, almost as one makes the critical assessment of oneself in a mirror, alone. At times the company of a friend helps to overcome some initial shyness. But the presence of lovers, wives, husbands, children often provokes a protective reaction in the subject. In reacting to more than one pair of eyes, to more than one relationship, a veil is drawn rather than lifted. Sometimes a familiar face seen in a new light is rediscovered. I delight in these encounters.

From Portraits. Photographs by Inge Morath. Aperture: New York, 1986.