Ruth Orkin. Retrospective. 1939 – 1981

08.12.2011 - 29.01. 2012

The Lumiere Brothers Center for Photography is proud to announce an exhibition by the outstanding American photographer Ruth Orkin that will be shown in Russia for the first time.

American Girl, Florence, 1951

Ruth Orkin (1921-1985) is the only child of Mary Ruby, a silent-film actress, and Samuel Orkin, a Russian manufacturer of toy boats. She grew up in Hollywood in the heyday of the 1920s and 1930s. At the age of 10, she received her first camera, and two years later Orkin began to develop her photographs herself.

She was an avid collector of autographs, but at 17 years old she became more interested in photographing celebrities instead.

In 1943, Orkin moved to New York. At first, she worked as a nightclub photographer in the evening and shot baby pictures by day to buy her first professional camera. By the end of 1940s, she worked for many major US magazines of the time and went to the famous Music Festival Tanglewood, and her archive now has portraits of the greatest musicians of the time: Leonard Bernstein, Isaac Stern, Aaron Copland, Serge Koussevitzky and many others.

In 1951, Orkin travelled to Italy, and in Florence she met Nina Lee Craig, an art student and fellow American, who became the subject of “American Girl in Italy” – the most famous photograph by Ruth Orkin. This picture that celebrated its 60th anniversary on the August 22 this year, is a part of a series titled “Don’t Be Afraid to Travel Alone” about what young women encountered traveling alone in Europe after the war.

On her return to New York, Orkin married the photographer and filmmaker Morris Engel. Together they produced two feature films, including the classic “Little Fugitive” which was nominated for an Oscar in 1953.

In 1959, Orkin, together with such stars of photography as Dorothea Lange and Margaret Bourke-White, was named one of "The Ten Best Women Photographers of the United States."
The Exhibition in the Lumiere Brothers Center for Photography includes 50 of her photographs, reflecting different periods of Ruth Orkin’s work.

Within the frameworks of the exhibition an 18-minute film: "Ruth Orkin: Frames of Life" (1995, USA) on the life and work of the photographer, which includes interviews with Cornell Capa, Mary Ellen Mark and others will be shown.

The exhibition is organized together with Ruth Orkin’s daughter, Mary Engel in the framework of American Seasons in Russia with the support of the Bilateral Presidential Commission and the US Embassy in Russian Federation.