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How did a Llama end up in Times Square? The picture of Linda the Llama – looking out from the back seat of a car, head turned curiously towards the camera – was originally taken for a LIFE magazine reportage about highly-paid TV animals. It would go on to become one of Inge Morath’s most famous images. But however spontaneous and light-hearted the picture might appear, it was actually the result of meticulous planning. This was characteristic for Morath (1923-2002) who, as one of the first female members of the Magnum agency, never quite received the appreciation her work clearly warrants and deserves.

The Verborgene Museum in Berlin, which places a strong focus on the work of female artists, currently presents a comprehensive showcase of the photographer’s oeuvre – the legendary Llama in Times Square is, of course, featured as part of the display.

In July 1949, an encounter with war photographer Robert Capa in Paris changed the course of Morath’s life. The Austrian-born photojournalist, who was 26 at the time, had been working as an editor for Heute, a Munich-based magazine published by the US military administration. By recruiting her to the Magnum agency, Capa paved the way for Morath’s international career as a travel, portrait and reportage photographer. In January 1954, she was sent to Spain on her first reportage assignment. Her constant companions: two Leica cameras (one for colour film, one for black and white), a viewfinder and a selection of lenses. She spent several weeks in Madrid, documenting the private and professional life of Mercedes Formica, a female lawyer who successfully campaigned for women’s rights under the Franco regime. This was soon followed by further commissions in different parts of the world. In London, Morath created the legendary portrait of the wealthy Mrs. Eveleigh Nash: impeccably composed, the image is a skilled commentary on the relationship between master and servant. In Reno, Nevada, Morath and Henri Cartier-Bresson worked as stills photographers on the movie set of Misfits. It was here that Morath met her future husband, Arthur Miller: they were married in 1962, following Miller’s divorce from Marilyn Monroe. Together, the couple travelled to the Soviet Union, China and Cambodia, resulting in numerous joint photo books. As with all her work, Morath’s travel photographs illustrate her extraordinary gift for sensitive observation, and her ability to portray foreign cultures, people and places with “considerate kindness” (Arthur Miller).

With this selection of images and letters, the Verborgene Museum offers a deeper insight into the intention behind the photographer’s work. The exhibition is complemented by depictions of Morath’s studio in Connecticut, USA, created by Austrian photographer and Fotohof-founder Kurt Kaindl. These atmospheric images of Morath’s personal surroundings are juxtaposed with her own artist portraits and travel photographs from countries such as China, Russia, Iran and Spain. The showcase also includes screenings of the documentary film Copyright by Inge Morath, created in 1991 by German film maker Sabine Eckhard in close collaboration with the artist.

The exhibition Inge Morath. Aus einem fotografischen Kosmos continues at the Verborgene Museum, Schlüterstraße 70, 10625 Berlin, until 26 August.


The publication Inge Morath – Fotografien (released by Kurt Kaindl), Fotohof Edition, Salzburg 2000, is available at the museum.

(Ulrich Rüter)
Lama, Times Square, New York City, 1957 © Magnum Photos / Inge Morath Foundation / Fotohof Archiv
Dona Mercedes Formica auf dem Balkon in der Calle de Recoletos, Madrid, 1955 © Magnum Photos / Inge Morath Foundation / Fotohof Archiv
Mrs. Eveleigh Nash, London, 1953 © Magnum Photos / Inge Morath Foundation / Fotohof Archiv

Inge Morath

INGE MORATH was born on 27 May 1923 in Graz, Austria. After studying Romance languages in Berlin and Bucharest, she worked as a journalist for print media and radio stations. Her first forays into the field of photography were as a picture editor for Simon Guttmann in London. Her friendship with Ernst Haas led to an encounter with Robert Capa. In 1953, she was accepted into the Magnum agency. This was quickly followed by her first solo exhibition in 1956, along with several book publications. Her travels took her across Europe, Africa, the Orient, the USA, USSR, China, Japan, Thailand and Cambodia, with frequent publications of her reportages in international magazines. Inge Morath passed away in New York on 30 January 2002.

Every year since 2002, the Inge Morath Foundation together with the Magnum agency awards a grant designed to support female young photographers.

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