Inge Morath



Images from Inge Morath: First Color (Steidl, 2009)


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 bear your soul. One’s vision finds of necessity the form suitable to express it.
-Inge Morath (Inge Morath: Life as a Photographer, Kehayoff Verlag, 1999)

Inge Morath (1923–2002) 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 at 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 had encountered photographer Ernst Haas in 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 travelled 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 honour 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.


2023  Documenting Israel: Visions of 75 years, Museum of Tolerance Jerusalem
 Inge Morath Hommage, Versicherungskammer Kulturstiftung, Munich
  Picturing People, The National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin
2021  New Perspectives. Acquisitions 2011–2020, The National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin
2020  Inge Morath. La vita. La fotografia, Museo Diocesano, Milan
2019  Inge Morath. La vita. La fotografia, Museo di Roma in Trastevere, Rome
2020  As They See Us: A Portrait of Russia, Manege Central Exhibition Hall, St. Petersburg
2012  View York – Nine Perceptions, KSH, Freiburg
2011  View York – Nine Perceptions, DAI, Tübingen
2011  View York – Nine Perceptions, CLAIRbyKahn, Munich
2010  First Colors, Magnum Gallery, Paris; CLAIRbyKahn, Munich
2008  Well Disposed and Trying to See: Inge Morath and Arthur Miller in China, University of Michigan Art Museum, Ann Arbor
2005  The Road to Reno, Pingyao International Photography Festival, Pingyao
2004  Chinese Encounters: Photographs by Inge Morath, Pingyao International Photography Festival, Pingyao
2003  Inge Morath, Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation, Paris
2003  The Danube, City Gallery of Ruse, Ruse
2002  New York, Galerie Fotohof, Salzburg; Europäische Wochen, Passau; ESWE Forum, Wiesbaden; Esther Woerdehoff, Paris; Amerikahaus, Tübingen
1999  Inge Morath, Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna
1999  Spain in the Fifties, Museo del Cabilde, Montevideo
1998  The Danube, Festival of Central European Culture, London, UK; Museen d. Stadt Regensburg
1998  Retrospective, Edinburgh Festival, Edinburgh, UK; Museum of Photography in Charleroi; Municipal Gallery, Pamplona
1998  Celebrating 75 Years, Leica Gallery, New York
1997  Retrospective, Kunsthal, Rotterdam
1997  The Danube, Keczkemet Museum, Esztergom Museum
1997  Photographs 1950s to 1990s, Tokyo Museum of Photography, Tokyo
1996  Women to Women, Takashimaya Gallery, Tokyo
1996  The Danube, Neues Schauspielhaus, Berlin, Germany; Leica Gallery, New York; Galeria Fotoforum, Bolzano
1995  Spain in the fifties, Museo de Arte Contemporaneo, Madrid; Museo de Navarra, Pamplona
1994  Spain in the fifties, Spanish Institute, New York
1992/94  Retrospective, Neue Galerie Linz, Austria; America House, Frankfurt; Hardenberg Gallery, Velbert; Galerie Fotogramma, Milan; Royal Photographic Society, Bath; Smith Gallery and Museum, Stirling; America House, Berlin; Hradcin Gallery, Prague
1991  Portraits, Kolbe Museum Berlin, Germany; Rupertinum Museum Salzburg
1989  Portraits, Burden Gallery, Aperture Foundation, New York
1989  Portraits, Norwich Cathedral, Norwich
1989  Portraits, American Cultural Center, Brussels
1988  Retrospective, Union of Photojournalists, Moscow, Russia; Sala del Canal Museum, Madrid; Rupertinum Museum, Salzburg
1979  Inge Morath: Photographs of China, Grand Rapids Art Museum, Michigan
1964  Inge Morath: Photographs, Gallery 104, Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois

AWARDS | Recognitions

1992  Great Austrian State Prize for Photography
1984  Doctor Honoris Causa Fine Arts, University of Connecticut, Hartford
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


2022  Inge Morath Hommage (Schirmer/Mosel, Munich)
2018  Inge Morath: Magnum Legacy (Prestel, USA)
2016  Inge Morath – On Style (Abrams, NYC)
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, USA)
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)