Biography of Inge Morath (1923-2002)

Photographer Austrian, nationalized American, born on May 27, 1923 in Graz (Austria) and died in New York on 30 January 2002.


He started as a photographer at the age of twenty-nine accidentally, by pure professional requirement. He trained in the study of languages and Romance literature in Berlin and Bucharest and was devoted, among other activities, to radio journalism for the radio stations 'Network Whait network', the translation and the press as an editor of the section of the information services of the American occupation forces in Salzburg and later in Viennabefore devoting itself to photography in 1952.

Its beginnings in photography were all autodidactos given the impossibility of audio-visual education in the Austria of the III Reich. Therefore, he began to collect magazines - Life - and purchase books on photography. So he met photographers such as Ernst Haas with whom he formed a magnificent team photographer/editor for the realization of different reports in the Austrian magazine Heute Americans published in Munich and that Inge was working. The work carried out by both were known by the German photographer Robert Capa , who encouraged them to become part of the newly created agency "Magnum Photo" of Paris.

From this first contact with photography, he began to write texts for photos that various members of Magnum - Cartier Bresson, David Seymour, among others - were for the Agency at the time that accompanied some of them in their reports.

In 1951 he married Lionel Birch, why he had to move to live in London and broke away from the group "Magnum". He learned the rudiments of photography from the hands of Simon Guttman, one of the fathers of modern photojournalism. He bought a Leica and began to work incessantly without encouraging results, the British environment, it was not known as a photographer by what possibilities that would not take seriously their work were many, all. It is why he adopted the name of Egni Tarom and began to send graphics to all kinds of magazines reports. Occasionally sold something, others, more, was praised for his good eye but criticized for his poor technique. Far from sinking into a kind of "technical pessimism" he worked hard in the dark room of great professionals in order to learn laboratory as a selfless helper.

Once divorced and back to Paris he worked for months on a story about the first militant Catholic priests living in the poorest districts of the French capital. They are images of a heartbreaking force while sensitive and melancholic. These aspects will definitely mark his work which, finally, gets the desired fruits because, once the story, sent it to Robert Capa to who liked it so much that he suggested be part of "Magnum", first as an associate, then as a full member.

Thus starts a promising career that will take her from Africa to Europe, United States to the Soviet Union: Japan, Thailand, China, Spain, Iran, Cambodia... Each of these voyages extracted all that "mother culture" that goes beyond any border: "as most of the time what aroused my enthusiasm was literature and visual art that believed my eye, I was interested from the start photographing the greatest possible number of writers and painters, dancers, sculptors and artisans of these countries;" all who expressed the soul and essence of a nation with his work".

Is this way as their stories appear regularly in prestigious journals - Life, Paris-Match, Holiday or Saturday Evening Post - at the time that did other work for theatre, fashion or film and published books - Fiesta in Pamplona, observed Venice, etc.

In 1962 he married American writer Arthur Miller, a fascinating symbiosis for a book like in Russia appeared in 1969, where Morath, for the first time, is not the editor of the texts, but the creator of a gorgeous album of images that portray with tenderness and sensitivity a civilization which rejects and repressed violence taking your photos with "decisive attitude" of the photographer that Cartier Bresson - one of his more pronounced influences - speaking: "with an open eye, which observes the world through the viewfinder, while the other, closed, look in the interior of the soul". And is that, as pointed out to Arthur Miller, Inge Morath, instinctively, it's integrating reality into a tender visual speech to the constant threat of a return to the violence: ".. .the tenderness and sentiment of your vision of things is, itself, an exhibition, an exhibition without illusions;" in a civilization where the worst concerns are common, it is not willing to use your camera as an allegorical instrument of aggression, a technique that takes the subject what he had not delivered entirely on willingly. Conversely, the Chamber of Inge enjoy and wonder to the uniqueness of the subject".

When it comes to his photographs the author literally soaked culture that wanted to reflect, customs, habits and even language, as initial and step essential to discover the Interior's images of the characters that hide behind their snapshots. Shots that collect, without apparent effort, pieces of life, casual and eternal moment unpretentious aesthetic or dramatic manipulation.

The silence of his photographs is no less eloquent than the expressive force of the texts that began his career. now, is the photographic image which has allowed him to experience relief expressed in all languages, even in those that didn't know. He worked tirelessly until his last days doing custom work or independent projects at the time receiving awards and honors his career all over the world.


Morath, Inge. Portraits of men and landscapes. Catalogue of the exhibition. October-November 1988. Community of Madrid. Ministry of culture.