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Spotlight On: Inge Morath

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Dancer’s skirt at a fair, Seville, Spain - Inge Morath | FFOTODancer’s skirt at a fair, Seville, Spain, 1983 © The Inge Morath Foundation / Magnum Photos

We are delighted to offer collectors an exclusive opportunity to acquire one of a handful of exceptional prints by much-loved photographer Inge Morath of legendary artist collective, Magnum Photos.  

Although it is possible to purchase high quality, officially sanctioned posthumous prints, the prints we are offering through FFOTOIMAGE were each selected for printing by Inge Morath herself and printed on her behalf by her long-time printer, Igor Bach, a Master Printer who had a deep understanding of the artist’s preferred greys and neutral tones.

These listings represent some truly rare items, as demonstrated by the accompanying “verso views”; images that show the reverse of some of these prints, giving collectors a chance to see signatures and annotations made in the artist’s own hand.

If you would like to enquire about any of these prints before making your purchase, please drop us a note: info@ffoto.com

–Craig D’Arville, COO, FFOTO

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A lively personality with an ability to win over people everywhere she went, Inge Morath was a widely respected photojournalist in an era that was not always welcoming to women artists. An inquisitive drive to learn about the places and cultures she photographed is evident in the masterful body of work she left behind. That her photography remains highly prized among collectors and influential among new generations of artists, speaks to Morath’s ability to connect not just with her subjects, but also with the universal themes she captured. What she saw, and documented, still resonates with viewers as being “true”.


Spain


Magnum Photos co-founder Robert Capa, working on a hunch, saw Spain as a place that would appeal to Morath’s sensibilities; this initial overseas assignment for the agency would prove to be a good fit for the artist. The resulting photobook, 1956’s Fiesta in Pamplona, would come to be recognized as a defining moment in Morath’s practice, notable for showing how her approach to documentary photography shifted from straightforward journalism towards a more empathetic relationship with her subjects.

Dona Mercedes Formica, Madrid - Inge Morath | FFOTODona Mercedes Formica, Madrid, 1955 © The Inge Morath Foundation / Magnum Photos
Dressing of the Bullfighter Antonio Ordóñez for the afternoon corrida, Fiesta of San Fermin, Pamplona, Spain - Inge Morath | FFOTODressing of the Bullfighter Antonio Ordóñez for the afternoon corrida, Fiesta of San Fermin, Pamplona, Spain, 1954 © The Inge Morath Foundation / Magnum Photos


Morath described Spain as:

“… almost like entering a dream one had had many times. I loved the people, they let me photograph them, but also they wanted me to listen to them, to tell me what they knew, so that we told their story together.”“… almost like entering a dream one had had many times. I loved the people, they let me photograph them, but also they wanted me to listen to them, to tell me what they knew, so that we told their story together.” 

– Inge Morath, MagnumPhotos.com

The Misfits

Documenting the film, The Misfits, would prove to be a life-altering event for Morath. It was while photographing the production of this movie that Morath would meet and eventually marry its screenwriter, famed playwright Arthur Miller. As a couple, they would go on to spend the rest of their lives together.

Filming of “The Misfits”, Marilyn Monroe, 1960 © The Inge Morath Foundation / Magnum Photos

Arthur Miller’s marriage to Marilyn Monroe had already dissolved by the time production on The Misfits had commenced but he remained protective of the movie star despite their divorce. Miller made the following observation about Morath and her sensitive approach to her subjects, which no doubt had a lasting impact on him:

“Reno, initially, and The Misfits in particular, was a circus for Inge; a rich mine of subjects. My first glimpse of her was in the Mapes Hotel coffee shop, where she was sitting at a table laughing with John Huston. She had worked on Huston’s film Moulin Rouge some time earlier, and had earned his respect as an artist. Huston’s admiration and respect came in part from the work, of course, but it was also because of her bravery. As far as he was concerned, that was the major virtue of anyone.

Inge took comparatively few pictures. When she pointed the camera she felt a certain responsibility for what it was looking at. Her pictures of Marilyn are particularly empathic and touching as she caught Marilyn’s anguish beneath her celebrity, the pain as well as her joy in life. Many of the pictures of the Magnum group have become part of the mythology of The Misfits. Inge’s, I think, are especially tender and beautiful.”

– Arthur Miller, from a conversation at the Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York, 2004.

Marilyn Monroe and Eli Wallach on the set of “The Misfits” - Inge Morath | FFOTOMarilyn Monroe and Eli Wallach on the set of “The Misfits”, 1960 © The Inge Morath Foundation / Magnum Photos
Marilyn Monroe and Eli Wallach on the set of “The Misfits” - Inge Morath | FFOTO
Marilyn Monroe and Eli Wallach on the set of “The Misfits”, 1960, Verso view

“Eli and Marilyn were like buddies, and you can see it… 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.”

– Inge Morath, from a conversation with Gail Levin for Making the Misfits, © Great Performances, Thirteen/WNET, 2001.

 

Russia

Inge Morath enjoyed a lifelong wanderlust. After they met, husband Arthur Miller would usually accompany her, as on the 1965 trip to the Soviet Union that produced the photograph shown below. The atmosphere is romantic and evocative, conjuring visions of Doctor Zhivago – you can practically feel the cold and hear the crunch of the snow under the horses’ hooves.

Five horse sleigh on a stud farm 40 miles west of Moscow (Schlitten, Russland), 1965 © The Inge Morath Foundation / Magnum Photos


As part of her travel preparations, Morath would immerse herself in research, going so far as to learn as much of the regional language as possible. This skill, in particular, was marvelled upon by Miller:

“Inge believed that to photograph a place you had to know the language. So she studied Chinese for about seven years before she went to China, and she did, similarly, with Russian before she went to Russia. Travel with her was a privilege because I would never have been able to penetrate that way.”

 Arthur Miller, from a conversation at the Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York, 2004.

 

New York

Inge Morath’s first visit to New York City coincided with the beginning of the 1956 cross-country trip with Magnum Photos co-founder Henri Cartier-Bresson. The metropolis would continue to figure in the artist’s output over the following four decades.

Bookstore on Fifth Avenue, New York City - Inge Morath | FFOTOBookstore on Fifth Avenue, New York City, 1958 © The Inge Morath Foundation / Magnum Photos
Bookstore on Fifth Avenue, New York City - Inge Morath | FFOTO
Bookstore on Fifth Avenue, New York City, 1958, Verso view
Forty-Eighth Street window washers, New York City, USA - Inge Morath | FFOTOForty-Eighth Street window washers, New York City, USA, 1958 © The Inge Morath Foundation / Magnum Photos
Forty-Eighth Street window washers, New York City, USA - Inge Morath | FFOTO
Forty-Eighth Street window washers, New York City, USA, 1958, Verso view

“Inge Morath was, above all, a traveller…Her approach to a story was ‘to let it grow’, without any apparent concern for narrative structure, trusting in her experience and interests to shape her work rather than in an editorial formula … She unsentimentally made pictures that were guided by her relationship to a place. These relationships were invariably intimate and long-lasting; she regularly revisited the places she chose to photograph…””Inge Morath was, above all, a traveller…Her approach to a story was ‘to let it grow’, without any apparent concern for narrative structure, trusting in her experience and interests to shape her work rather than in an editorial formula … She unsentimentally made pictures that were guided by her relationship to a place. These relationships were invariably intimate and long-lasting; she regularly revisited the places she chose to photograph…”

– Chris Boot, Magnum Stories, 2014

Olmec sculpture on Park Avenue, New York City - Inge Morath | FFOTOOlmec sculpture on Park Avenue, New York City, 1965 © The Inge Morath Foundation / Magnum Photos
Olmec sculpture on Park Avenue, New York City - Inge Morath | FFOTO
Olmec sculpture on Park Avenue, New York City, 1965, Verso view showing artist’s studio stamp and Magnum agency stamp


Of the available prints, only this one, shown above, is unsigned by the artist. Olmec Sculpture on Park Avenue, New York City, 1965, is a vintage print – meaning the print was made close to when the negative was created – bearing both the artist’s stamp and the Magnum agency stamp, giving it cachet among devout collectors thanks to the markings that show this item’s history.
 

If you are interested in adding one of these remarkable prints to your collection but would like to know more about our safe and insured shipping procedures, or would like to enquire about arranging to purchase in instalments, please send a note to: info@ffoto.com.