Inge Morath: An Illustrated Biography

Inge Morath

Inge Morath

Magnum Foundation presents Inge Morath, the third volume in the Magnum Legacy Series. “Little has been published about how the personal experiences of Magnum photographers shaped their commitment to telling stories” says Kristen Lubben, Executive Director of the Magnum Foundation. “This series invites us to imagine their world on the other side of the lens.”

With the publication of Inge Morath by Linda Gordon (Prestel, November 2018), Magnum Foundation continues its series of illustrated biographies about the lives of Magnum photographers behind their well-known photographs. This book is the first ever full-length biography of Austrian-born American photographer Inge Morath, tracing her life through the prism of her work and archives.

Inge Morath overcame an adolescence in Nazi Germany and the trauma of barely surviving World War II to use her camera as a way to enter worlds closed to most women. One of the first women to join Magnum Photos in 1953, she worked closely with Robert Capa and Henri Cartier-Bresson.

In this third volume of the Magnum Legacy series, renowned historian Linda Gordon presents Morath as she traveled across the globe, often as a woman alone, quietly but firmly defying the conventions for what was appropriate for women at the time. Her photographs show her cosmopolitanism, her love of literature, her fluency in many languages. Morath’s work is unified by an intimacy and comfort with her subjects. Her respect for the various cultures she documented made her what Gordon calls a visual ethnographer. Truly a citizen of the world, she had a rare ability to see, simultaneously, the universal and the personal.

I am a traveler with a camera through whose viewfinder I have been looking at the world and the faces of its people for more than forty years.
— Inge Morath

Morath was a superb portraitist, particularly drawn to artist subjects, such as painter Saul Steinberg, sculptor Louise Bourgeois, and writer Boris Pasternak. She worked mainly in black-and-white but also used color film exquisitely, even early in her career. Through a Magnum assignment to document Marilyn Monroe and The Misfits film set, she met the famous playwright Arthur Miller, and their subsequent marriage lasted for forty years. Miller, speaking of his wife, said “She made poetry out of people and their places over half a century.”

Morath’s curiosity, compassion, and bravery show vividly in this biography featuring stunning images from every stage of her career.

Inge’s photographs best reflect her deep curiosity and endless engagement in the world she was always inspired to explore
— Susan Meiselas

Read Learning from the Master, an exclusive extract from the biography exploring Inge’s earliest days with Magnum Photos, working in Spain under the at times grueling tutelage of its co-founder Henri Cartier-Bresson.


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Published by Prestel
192 pages with 68 color illustrations, 114 b/w illustrations
9¼ x 10¾ in. / 23.4 x 27.3 cm
Price: $49.95  £39.99 €44.80
ISBN: 978-3-7913-8201-2
Publication Date: November 2018


Linda Gordon, professor of history at New York University, is the author of Dorothea Lange: A Life Beyond Limits, which won the Bancroft prize for best book in American history, the Los Angeles Times prize for best biography, and the National Arts Club prize for arts writing. Her most recent book is The Second Coming of the KKK: The Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s and the American Political Tradition.


The Magnum Foundation is a nonprofit organization that expands creativity and diversity in documentary photography, activating new audiences and ideas through the innovative use of images. Through grantmaking and mentorship, Magnum Foundation supports a global network of social justice and human rights-focused photographers and experiments with new models for storytelling. As Magnum foundation expands the possibilities for the next generation of photographers, it also works to preserve the histories of humanistic and documentary photography, including the larger Magnum Photos community.


Prestel is an internationally recognized illustrated book publisher with an enviable list of monographs and themed volumes on all periods of art history, architecture, photography and design. Prestel has co-published exhibition catalogues with some of the world’s leading museums such as The Barbican Art Gallery, LACMA, Neue Galerie, Legion of Honor, Whitney Museum, and in everything it does Prestel emphasizes quality in both content and design. Prestel is proud to be the publisher of choice for art lovers, photographers and those with an eye for beauty the world over.


The Magnum Legacy series explores the creative processes of Magnum photographers, from the agency’s founders to its contemporary members, through a mix of biographical text, archival materials, and iconic imagery. Each book includes a comprehensive narrative by a leading author supplemented by contact sheets, caption notes, tear sheets, and diaries, as well as an illustrated chronology of the photographer’s life. Andrew E. Lewin is the managing editor and photo historian Carole Naggar is the series editor. Previous publications include Eve Arnold: Magnum Legacy by Janine di Giovanni (2015) and Bruce Davidson: An Illustrated Biography, by Vicky Goldberg (2016), both co-published with Prestel. The next title in the Magnum Legacy series will be Josef Koudelka by Melissa Harris.

Simone Salvo