A woman in the boys club

Inge Morath: An Illustrated Biography
Forfatter: Linda Gordon
Forlag: Prestel (Tyskland, England, USA)
PHOTO / Inge Morath was one of the few female photographers of the 1950 who gained membership in the male-dominated Magnum Photos. In this illustrated biography we get to take part in her adventurous and unconventional life.


I Inge Morath: An Illustrated Biography we get a glimpse into the versatile artistry and extraordinary life of US-Austrian photographer Inge Morath (1923 – 2002), born Ingeborg Hermine Morath in Graz, Austria, where she uses the camera as the entrance ticket to the conventional world of the time, which was closed to women .

The book is divided into eight sections that chronologically describe the highlights of her life: "Forged By War", "Magnum, Paris", "Choosing Photography", "Learning From the Master", "World Photographer", "America And Arthur Miller "," Heading East "and" Crossing Borders ". Each section contains text with illustrative photographs, both Morath's own photographs and photographs of her taken by unknown photographers.

Inge Morath / unknown photographer

Characterized by an upbringing in Nazi Germany during World War II, she comes out into the world and eventually fulfills her dreams. She first became part of the avant-garde environment in Vienna, then traveled to Paris as a journalist with photographer Ernst Haas in 1949. In 1955, she became one of the first female members of the "boys club" Magnum Photos and began a career as a photographer in good team with Robert Capa and Henri Cartier-Bresson, who was also her lover.


As one of the few female photographers of her time, she has to work twice as hard as her male colleagues to be taken seriously. She even says: "Being one of the few female photographers in the industry was difficult simply because no one thought I was serious: What makes a sweet girl like you in this industry? There were many patronizing men. At least I don't think I got the same support as the male 'fraternity' got. "

Morath often traveled alone around the world, which was unusual for women at that time. Her photographs show a traveled and independent woman with a unique sense of the universal and the personal. It is especially her photographs from the refugee camps in the Middle East that make a strong impression on me.

Pahlevani training in a so-called zoorkhaneh, a dome used for training purposes, Tehran, Iran, 1956. © Inge Morath / Magnum photos.

The photograph «Gaza» (1960) of children playing in Gaza gives me shivers when I think of all the children who have been killed there in my lifetime. It is touching to see how she creates the poetry of different human destinies and places, especially with regard to her own war traumas.

Working mother

On the movie set to The Misfits with Marilyn Monroe in the lead role and Arthur Miller in the director's chair, Morath meets the man of his life. Morath was initially commissioned to document the film production, but at the same time develops feelings for Miller, who at that time is in a relationship with Marilyn Monroe. Morath initiates a 40-year long love affair with him.

"Being one of the few female photographers in the industry was difficult simply because no one thought I was serious: What makes a sweet girl like you in this industry?" Inge Morath

Although Morath and Monroe are rivals, Morath portrays her as a sympathetic and lyrical beauty in her photographs. In the photograph «Marilyn Monroe on the set of The Misfits, Reno, Nevada »(1960) we see a dancing and barefoot Monroe in the moonlight. There is mutual sympathy and warmth between the two women. After Monroe's death, Morath's relationship with Miller develops rapidly, and in 1962 they marry. That same year, they get daughter Rebecca Miller.

Venice in the rain, 1954. © Inge Morath / Magnum Photos

After her daughter is born, Morath fully defines her own autonomous and creative identity. She continues to travel, and in 1965 she goes to the Soviet Union with Miller. Two years later they have son Daniel, born with Down syndrome. They place him in the institution him right after birth, mostly due to pressure from Miller. He does not want to see his son, while Morath often visits him at the orphanage.

Eventually, she travels to China, Japan, Israel, Egypt and South Africa. She feels at home everywhere and takes iconic photographs that several generations after her enjoy. During her travels she also has a typewriter and writes openly about her experiences in the form of diaries and letters. Unfortunately, none of these texts are published.

The last journey

In 1982 she portrayed female artists, including Helen Frankenthaler and Louise Bourgeois. Miller and Morath continue the collaboration, where Miller often writes texts for her photographs, and Morath photographs the actors on his film sets. Over the years, she also holds several exhibitions around the world.

Dustin Hoffman during the filming of a Traveler's death, 1985 © Inge Morath / Magnum Photos.

In 1999, she was awarded the Vienna Gold Medal of Honor. In the last two years of her life, she travels to Cuba, where she photographs Fidel Castro, and in 2002, just before she died of lymphoma at the age of 78, she photographed the border crossing between Styria southeast of Austria and Slovenia, resulting in the book Grenz. Spaces: Last Journey

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