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Biography of Inge Morath
Morath - Portrait

Jerusalem, 1958 © Inge Morath Foundation – Magnum Photos/courtesy °CLAIR Gallery

  • Biography

    Inge Morath, 1923 – 2002

    „Photography is a strange phenomenon. In spite of the use of that technical instrument, the camera, no two photographers, even if they were at the same place at the same time, come back with the same pictures. The personal vision is usually there from the beginning; result of a special chemistry of background and feelings, traditions and their rejection, of sensibility and voyeurism. You trust your eye and you cannot help but bare your soul. One’s vision finds of necessity the form suitable to express it.”
    Inge Morath, Life as a Photographer, 1999

    Ingeborg Mörath was born in Graz, Austria. Her parents were scientists whose work took them to different laboratories and universities in Europe during her childhood. Educated in French speaking schools, Morath and her family relocated to Darmstadt in the 1930s, and then to Berlin.

    Morath’s first encounter with avant-garde art was the Entartete Kunst (Degenerate Art) exhibition organized by the Nazi party in 1937, which sought to inflame public opinion against modern art. “I found a number of these paintings exciting and fell in love with Franz Marc’s Blue Horse,” Morath later wrote. “Only negative comments were allowed, and thus began a long period of keeping silent and concealing thoughts.”

    After the Second World War, Morath worked as a translator and journalist. In 1948, she was hired by Warren Trabant for Heute, an illustrated magazine published by the US Information Agency in Munich. Morath encountered photographer Ernst Haas in post-war Vienna, and brought his work to Trabant’s attention. Working together for Heute, Morath wrote articles to accompany Haas’ pictures. In 1949, Morath and Haas were invited by Robert Capa to join the newly-founded Magnum Photos in Paris, where she would work as an editor. Working with contact sheets by founding member Henri Cartier-Bresson fascinated Morath. She wrote, “I think that in studying his way of photographing I learned how to photograph myself, before I ever took a camera into my hand.”

    Morath was briefly married to the British journalist Lionel Birch and relocated to London in 1951. That same year, she began to photograph during a visit to Venice. “It was instantly clear to me that from now on I would be a photographer,” she wrote. “As I continued to photograph I became quite joyous. I knew that I could express the things I wanted to say by giving them form through my eyes.”

    Morath divorced Birch and returned to Paris to pursue a career in photography. In 1955 she was invited to become a full member of Magnum Photos. During the late 1950s she traveled widely, covering stories in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, the United States, and South America for such publications as Holiday, Paris Match, and Vogue. She published Guerre à la Tristesse, photographs of Spain, with Robert Delpire in 1955, followed by De la Perse à l’Iran, photographs of Iran, in 1958.

    Like many Magnum members, Morath worked as a still photographer on numerous motion picture sets. Having met director John Huston while she was living in London, Morath worked on several of his films. In 1960 she was on the set of The Misfits, a blockbuster film featuring Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable, and Montgomery Clift, with a screenplay by Arthur Miller. Morath met Miller while working on The Misfits, and – following Miller’s divorce from Monroe – they were married on February 17, 1962.

    Morath’s achievements during her first decade of work as a photographer are significant. Along with Eve Arnold, she was among the first women members of Magnum Photos, which remains to this day a predominantly male organization. Many critics have written of the element of playful surrealism that characterizes Morath’s work from this period. It was motivated by a fundamental humanism, shaped as much by the experience of war as by its lingering shadow over post-war Europe. This motivation grows, in Morath’s mature work, into a motif as she documents the endurance of the human spirit under situations of extreme duress as well as its manifestations of ecstasy and joy.

    Ingeborg Morath Miller died of cancer in 2002, at the age of 78. In honor of their colleague, the members of Magnum Photos established the Inge Morath Award in 2002. The Award is administered by the Inge Morath Foundation in cooperation with the Magnum Foundation, New York.

    The Inge Morath Foundation was established by Morath’s family, in 2003, to preserve and share her legacy.

  • Awards

    1992 Great Austrian State Prize for Photography?
    1984 Doctor Honoris Causa Fine Arts, University of Connecticut, Hartford, USA?
    1983 State of Michigan Senate Resolution NO 295; Tribute to Inge Morath in recognition of her outstanding
    accomplishment as a photographer and chronicler of human life

  • Shows

    (a selection)
    2012 ‘View York – Nine Perceptions’, KSH, Freiburg
    2011 ‘View York – Nine Perceptions’, DAI Tübingen
    2011 ‘View York – Nine Perceptions’, Galerie °CLAIR, Munich
    2010 First Colors, Magnum Gallery, Paris, °CLAIR Gallery, Munich
    2008 Well Disposed and Trying to See: Inge Morath and Arthur Miller in China, University of Michigan Art Museum, Ann Arbor, USA.
    2005 The Road to Reno – Pingyao International Photography Festival, Pingyao, China ?
    2004 Chinese Encounters: Photographs by Inge Morath – Pingyao International Photography Festival, China ?
    2003 Exposition – Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation, Paris, France. ?
    2003 Danube – City Gallery of Russe, Russe, Bulgaria.?
    2002 New York – Galerie Fotohof, Salzburg, Austria; Stadt Passau, Europäische; Wochen, Germany ESWE Forum, Wiesbaden; Esther Woerdehoff, Paris, France; Amerikahaus Tübingen, Germany.
    1999 Retrospective Kunsthalle Wien; FNAC Etoile, Paris; FNAC, Barcelona ?
    1999 Spain in the Fifties – Museo del Cabilde, Montevideo, Uruguay?
    1998 Danube – Festival of Central European Culture, London, UK; Museen d. Stadt Regensburg, Germany?
    1998 Retrospective – Edinburgh Festival, Edinburgh, UK; Museum of Photography in Charleroi , Belgium; Municipal Gallery, Pamplona, Spain ?
    1998 Celebrating 75 Years – Leica Gallery, New York, USA ?
    1997 Retrospective – Kunsthal, Rotterdam, Netherlands ?
    1997 The Danube – Keczkemet Museum, Esztergom Museum, Hungary?
    1997 Photographs 1950s to 1990s – Tokyo Museum of Photography, Tokyo, Japan?
    1996 Women to Women – Takashimaya Gallery, Tokyo, Japan ?
    1996 The Danube – Neues Schauspielhaus, Berlin; Leica Gallery, New York; Galeria Fotoforum, Bolzano ?
    1995 Spain in the fifties – Museo de Arte Contemporaneo, Madrid, Spain; Museo de Navarra,Pamplona, Spain ?
    1994 Spain in the fifties – Spanish Institute, New York, USA ?
    1992/94 Retrospective – Neue Galerie Linz, Austria ;America House, Frankfurt, Germany; Hardenberg Gallery, Velbert, Germany; Galerie Fotogramma, Milano, Italy; Royal Photographic Society, Bath, UK; Smith Gallery and Museum, Stirling, UK;?America House, Berlin, Germany; Hradcin Gallery, Prague, Czech Republic?
    1991 Portraits – Kolbe Museum Berlin, Germany; Rupertinum Museum Salzburg, Austria?
    1989 Portraits – Burden Gallery, Aperture Foundation, New York, New York, USA?
    1989 Portraits – Norwich Cathedral, Norwich, UK?
    1989 Portraits – American Cultural Center, Brussels, Belgium?
    1988 Retrospective Union of Photojournalists, Moscow, Russia; Sala del Canal Museum, Madrid, Spain; Rupertinum Museum, Salzburg, Austria

  • Publications

    (a selection)
    2011 ‘View York – Nine Perceptions’, Kerber Verlag, Bielefeld
    2009 First Color, Steidl, Germany
    2009 Iran, Steidl, Germany
    2006 The road to Reno, Steidl, Germany?
    2002 New York, Otto Müller/Verlag, Austria?
    2000 Saul Steinberg Masquerade, Viking Studio, USA?
    1999 Inge Morath: Life as a Photographer, Kehayoff Books, Germany?
    1999 Arthur Miller: Photographed by Inge Morath, FNAC, Spain?
    1999 Inge Morath: Portraits, Verlag, Austria?
    1996 Woman to Woman, Magnum Photos, Japan?
    1995 Donau, Verlag, Austria?
    1994 Inge Morath: Spain in the Fifties, Arte con Texto, Spain?
    1992 Inge Morath: Photographs 1952 to 1992, Otto Müller/Verlag, Autria?
    1991 Russian Journal, Aperture Foundation, USA?
    1986 Portraits, Aperture, USA?
    1984 Salesman in Beijing, Viking Press, USA ?
    1981 Bilder aus Wien: Der Liebe Augustin, Reich Verlag, Switzerland?
    1980 From Persia to Iran: A Historical Journey, Viking Press, USA?
    1979 Chinese Encounters, Straus & Giroux, USA?
    1979 Inge Morath: Photographs of China, Grand Rapids Art Museum, USA?
    1977 In the Country, Viking Press, USA?
    1975 Grosse Photographen unserer Zeit: Inge Morath, C.J. Bucher Verlag, Switzerland?
    1973 East West Exercises, Simon Walker & Co., USA?
    1969 In Russia, Viking Press, USA?1967 Le Masque (Drawings by Saul Steinberg), Maeght Editeur, France?
    1960 Bring Forth the Children: A Journey to the Forgotten People of Europe and the Middle East, McGraw-Hill
    1958 De la Perse à l’Iran, Robert Delpire, France?
    1956 Venice Observed, Reynal & Co., USA?
    1956 Fiesta in Pamplona, Universe Books, USA?
    1955 Guerre à la Tristesse, Robert Delpire, France