“Inge Morath: Bal d’hiver” at Esopus Space

September 30, 2011

Esopus Space is pleased to present “Inge Morath: Bal d'Hiver,” an exhibition of recently discovered images captured over a half-century ago by the renowned photographer Inge Morath. An opening reception for the exhibition, which runs through December 15th, will be held at the gallery on Wednesday, November 2nd, from 6 to 8 pm.

“The Paris social season opened with a big, elegant splash last Tuesday. The Baronne de Gabrol, President of ESSOR, an association for the protection of France’s abandoned children, sponsored the Winter Ball, at which some of the most distinguished names in Europe amused themselves for the benefit of needy children.” So begins Inge Morath’s description of the Bal d’Hiver, a dance on ice performed in 1955 by European royalty, in costumes donated by couturiers including Hubert de Givenchy and Christian Dior, and attended by an international roster of celebrities, from the Countess d’Paris to film star Charles Chaplin. Morath's remarkable photos of the event take the viewer behind the scenes of this one-of-a-kind gathering while exhibiting her extraordinary sense of composition and intensely humanistic approach. Each image perfectly illustrates a comment made by the photographer in 1999: “The personal vision is usually there from the beginning; result of a special chemistry of background and feelings, traditions and their rejection, of sensibility and voyeurism. You trust your eye and you cannot help but bare your soul.”

The exhibition at Esopus Space will consist of fourteen 22" x 35" prints from the original series, which has never been exhibited or published. The show accompanies a piece in the forthcoming issue of Esopus that will feature even more images from the series, along with facsimile reproductions of Morath’s descriptive texts of the event for Magnum Photos and a drop-out contact sheet from the photographer's archives. Esopus 17 will be on newsstands on November 1, and the opening reception for the exhibition will also serve as a launch event for the issue.

Inge Morath was born in Graz, Austria, in 1923. After working as a translator, journalist, and photo editor, she began taking photographs in 1951, and in 1955, she was invited to join the photographic cooperative Magnum Photos. In the years that followed, Morath worked around the world photographing stories for magazines such as Vogue, Holiday, and Paris Match. Her output also included production stills for motion pictures and the theater, as well as an iconic series of portraits of subjects ranging from Louise Bourgeois to Philip Roth, who called her “the most engaging, sprightly, seemingly harmless voyeur I know.” Morath ultimately published more than 30 monographs of her work. After her marriage to playwright Arthur Miller—who she met working as a set photographer on The Misfits—in 1962, Morath settled in New York and Connecticut and continued working until her death from cancer in 2002. She is the subject of Copyright by Inge Morath, a 1998 documentary by Sabine Eckhard.