The Photography of Inge Morath
“Photography is a strange phenomenon... You trust your eye and cannot help but bare your soul”
Ingeborg Morath was born 27th May 1923, in Graz, Austria. Both parents were highly educated scientists.
Morath studied languages and wanted to pursue a career in writing. The Second World War changed the direction of Inge’s life and as a teenager she was sent to a labour camp for refusing to join Hitler’s Youth. In 1944 she worked as an interpreter for the USA, moving to France in 1950 she began working for the Austrian photographers Ernst Haas and Erich Lessing. Inge would write text/captions to accompany their photographs.
During 1951 she took up employment with Picture Post magazine in London as a photojournalist and was soon to travel on behalf of the magazine to Hollywood for a brief assignment.
On her first trip to New York she was interrogated by immigration inspectors suspected of having communist connections because she had a book about movie stars called ‘Stardust in Hollywood’ in her suitcase published by the ‘Left Book Club’ of London.
It was in 1960 during the shooting of The Misfits in Reno that Inge met both Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe. Inge arrived with Henri Cartier-Bresson to photograph the filming. In his autobiography Timebends Arthur Miller said of Marilyn’s feelings towards Inge;
“Marilyn liked her at once, appreciating her considerate kindness and the absence – remarkable in a photographer – of aggression. She doted a little on the pictures Inge Morath had taken of her, sensing real affection in them”
Whilst filming The Misfits, Marilyn and Arthur’s marriage was speeding rapidly towards the end of it’s life, culminating in divorce on January 20th 1961 – and whilst Miller claimed there was nothing between him and Morath during filming, he went on to marry the photographer on February 17th 1962, she was already pregnant with Arthur’s child. Marilyn found this very painful to deal with so quickly after their break up as it had been her dearest wish to have a child with Arthur. Inge and Arthur’s daughter Rebecca, who is now a well known and respected screenwriter, director and actress is married to the English actor Daniel Day Lewis, she was born less than 6 weeks after Marilyn’s death.
In 1966 Inge gave birth to a son named Daniel, who was born with Down Syndrome. Arthur did not have the emotional capacity to deal with a disabled child and he was therefore, at Arthur’s instigation, institutionalised shortly after his birth. Whilst Inge was a regular visitor until her death, it has been reported that Arthur Miller did not visit and Daniel.
Miller has described their years together “the best” of his life and he dedicated his autobiography Timebends (published 1987) to her.
Inge died of cancer in 2002 on January 30th.