Inge Morath’s love affair with Spain began as an apprentice and assistant to Henri Cartier-Bresson, on a mission to Madrid in 1953. She returned two years later as a photographer at the Magnum agency and, having befriended by a Spanish duke, Gonzalo Figueroa, travels the country with him in a pair of Cadillacs, one for them and another filled with a library of books from which the duke’s valet read aloud.
Morath was studying languages at the University of Berlin when Hitler’s armies marched across Europe and were conscripted into an aircraft parts factory, alongside prisoners of war. In 1945, aged 22, she walked the 455 miles through the ruins to her parents’ home in Salzburg, Austria.
These experiences gave him an eye not only for suffering, but also for the constant need to seek compensatory lightness. Her camera found plenty at festivals in Spain, where she returned many times, long after she married playwright Arthur Miller in 1962. This photo of a swirling dancer’s skirt, taken at a festival in Seville in 1987 – and included in Magnum’s latest 75th anniversary print sale – was typical of Morath’s enduring romance with the country. Having more than held her own in the male-dominated world of photojournalism, she turned to strong women and celebrated them.
She characterized her early years on the road at Magnum as being when she was asked the question, “What does a pretty girl like you want in this job?” His persistent response was to turn his camera to things that made his heart skip a beat: “Pressing the shutter,” Morath said, “remained a moment of joyous recognition, comparable to the delight of a balancing child. on tiptoe and suddenly, with a little cry of joy, reaching out for a desired object.
Magnum’s latest square print sale, Now, runs online from 9:00 a.m. EST Oct. 17 to 11:59 p.m. ET Oct. 24 and includes over 120 signed or stamped 6×6-inch prints , all priced at £100 / €120 / $100 + tax. The images will be in public preview at an exhibition at the Photographers’ Gallery, London W1 during the live sale