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April 7, 2018 Comments Off on MORRIS AT 100 – AT THE METROGRAPH News

by Richard Brody – March 26, 2018
Excerpt from article about Steven Soderbergh
Soderbergh’s technical innovation and his vigorously imaginative deployment of it are at the core of the tradition of independent filmmaking. On April 8th, the centenary of the director and photographer Morris Engel, Metrograph will show his three features, including the first, “Little Fugitive,” which François Truffaut credited as a key inspiration of the French New Wave. The movie, which Engel made in 1952, with Ruth Orkin (they married in the course of production) and Ray Ashley, is the story of a young boy in Brooklyn who, tricked into thinking that he has killed his brother, flees home and reaches Coney Island. For the purpose of this film, Engel, who did his own cinematography, designed a 35-mm. movie camera to what he considered the requirements of the project—a camera that was both lightweight and didn’t need to be held up to his eye for framing. It hung from a strap and he looked down at its viewfinder, allowing him to film inconspicuously in public and to move both freely and unobtrusively. (Jean-Luc Godard later wrote to Engel in the hope of borrowing the camera, and, in the nineteen-seventies, he sought to produce, to his specifications, a similarly lightweight and portable 35-mm. camera.)


The Self-Dramatizing Style of Morris Engel

A one-day retrospective traces how the filmmaker’s struggles informed generations of independent cinema.

The techniques and styles of American independent filmmaking owe much to the work of Morris Engel and Ruth Orkin, which gets a one-day retrospective at Metrograph on April 8, the centenary of Engel’s birth (he died in 2005). In 1952, Engel and Orkin, who worked as photographers, co-directed, with their friend Ray Ashley, the vastly influential independent film “Little Fugitive”; they married during the course of its production. Despite its acclaim (the filmmakers received an Oscar nomination for the story, and the film was later cited by François Truffaut as an inspiration for the French New Wave), the couple had trouble finding money for their second film, “Lovers and Lollipops.” Engel also struggled to finance the 1958 feature “Weddings and Babies,” which he made without Orkin’s participation (she had returned to still photography), and which dramatizes the difficulties faced by a couple planning to marry and make independent films. It’s a seminal entry in the now-familiar genre of an aspiring filmmaker’s first-person story.
For “Weddings and Babies,” Engel did his own cinematography using a handheld camera, made to his specifications, that was outfitted to record synchronous sound—a major innovation that he deployed to substantial dramatic ends and that also plays an onscreen role in the story. The title refers to the storefront studio of a commercial photographer named Al (John Myhers), who runs it with his girlfriend, Bea (Viveca Lindfors). They’ve been together for three years, and Bea, who’s about to turn thirty, is impatient to get married. But the thirty-four-year-old Al, who dreams of making films, sinks his bankroll—on which he and Bea could have started a household—into a new movie camera that, he says, will both help his business and launch his career in filmmaking.
Engel’s technical and dramatic imagination rises to a frenzied pitch in a wrenching discussion between Bea and Al, in which she voices her frustrations with him and with her own life, and he responds with petulant and juvenile indignation. Lacerating domestic battles such as this one, filmed with the kind of confrontational intimacy that Engel’s equipment enabled, would soon be a defining trait of independent filmmaking. Moreover, a pair of tragicomic scenes centered on the fragility of Al’s equipment set a template for generations of self-dramatizing filmmakers. 
This article appears in other versions of the April 9, 2018, issue, with the headline “Work-Life Balance.
AIPAD Show – April 5 – 8
Annual photography show at Pier 94. Several galleries will have Morris Engel’s photographs at their booths. Stephen Daiter Gallery from Chicago will display three of Morris’ photos as part of a Photo League show. His work is also included in a new catalog “NOTED PHOTOS: A Selection of Vintage Photographs from The Photo League.” In addition, Howard Greenberg Gallery, Richard Moore and PDNB Gallery will have some of his photos available.
The Screening Room at AIPAD 
I curated a film program for AIPAD, and Morris Engel: The Independent and Ruth Orkin: Frames of Life will be playing throughout the show in The Screening Room. 
MORRIS ENGEL RUTH ORKIN – OUTSIDE From Street Photography to Filmmaking published by Carlotta Films (2014) will be available at Distributed Art Publishers at AIPAD, or online at or

The Films of Morris Engel box set is available from Kino Lorber. Look for a new Blu-ray box set that will be released soon.
Morris Engel will have a vintage photograph in the Bonhams auction on April 6, and Paddle 8 will feature two of his photographs in their online sale that begins on April 12. 
Museum of Modern Art, MoMA
Morris Engel’s unreleased feature film from 1968, “I Need a Ride to California” has been restored by MoMA and will be shown next year at MoMA. 

National Museum of African American History and Culture

September 22, 2017 Comments Off on National Museum of African American History and Culture News

I am pleased to announce that two unseen Ruth Orkin photographs taken at Penn Station in NYC in 1948 are currently in the EVERYDAY BEAUTY exhibition at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. Another Orkin photo of Marian Anderson and Leonard Bernstein is in a video installation.

Everyday Beauty is the inaugural exhibition in the Earl W. and Amanda Stafford Center for African American Media Arts (CAAMA). The exhibit uses the lenses of history

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CNN Article about Kathrine Switzer

September 22, 2017 Comments Off on CNN Article about Kathrine Switzer News…/boston-marathon-kathrine-sw…/index.html

Wonderful story about the fearless and inspirational Kathrine Switzer who is running in the Boston Marathon today 50 years later! Ruth Orkin captured her when she was proud to be a woman in the race in NYC which she won in 1974, and wore a dress to prove it!

Photo below right: Kathrine Switzer, 1974 NYC Marathon, copyright Ruth Orkin

  • 1st woman to officially run Boston Marathon to do it again 50 years later
      See more at CNN.COM

Eyes on Main Street

September 22, 2017 Comments Off on Eyes on Main Street News

Ruth Orkin’s photograph “Comic Book Readers, NYC, 1947” included in recent exhibit in Wilson, North Carolina.

photography festival downtown wilson main street 2016

new book Flaneuse by Lauren Elkin

September 22, 2017 Comments Off on new book Flaneuse by Lauren Elkin News

Ruth Orkin’s photograph AMERICAN GIRL IN ITALY is included in this new book.…/rev…/flaneuse-by-lauren-elkin.html

Lauren Elkin’s “Flaneuse” is a tribute to the pleasures of aimless urban wandering and female style.

CNN article – The Story behind ‘American Girl in Italy’

September 22, 2017 Comments Off on CNN article – The Story behind ‘American Girl in Italy’ News
The woman featured in Ruth Orkin’s iconic photo sets the record straight.

Howard Greenberg Gallery – The Photo League exhibition

September 22, 2017 Comments Off on Howard Greenberg Gallery – The Photo League exhibition News

Ruth Orkin and Morris Engel’s photos included in exhibition about The Photo League at the Howard Greenberg Gallery in January, 2017

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Ruth Orkin early NYC Marathon photos in The Gothamist on Marathon Sunday

November 7, 2016 Comments Off on Ruth Orkin early NYC Marathon photos in The Gothamist on Marathon Sunday News

 Photos: A Look Back At The First NYC Marathon In 1970


This year’s race will mark the 40th anniversary of the marathon’s expansion to all five boroughs (previously it had been run entirely in Manhattan), which gave us more-or-less the route in use today.

The New York Road Runners, which organizes the marathon, estimates that this year over one million spectators will line the 26.2 mile course, marked by billowing royal blue banners and a wide river of trampled Gatorade cups. Millions more will watch live broadcasts on New York’s local ABC affiliate and ESPN2, as well as international media partners bringing the race to countries across the globe.

For New Yorkers, it’s hard to imagine the city without the marathon, which has made the first Sunday in November one of the High Holidays of New York’s civic religion. Yet to those who ran in the first NYC Marathon, back in 1970, the race of today would be unrecognizable.

Jane Jacobs photo by Ruth Orkin included in new book

October 1, 2016 Comments Off on Jane Jacobs photo by Ruth Orkin included in new book News

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Jane Jacobs and Ned Jacobs, NYC, 1961

Ruth Orkin’s photograph of Jane Jacobs included in new book “Vital Little Plans The Short Works of Jane Jacobs” by Samuel Zipp and Nathan Storring.

Vital Little Plans brings together for the first time a career-spanning selection of essays, articles, speeches and interviews by the great urban thinker Jane Jacobs.
The writings range from her earliest reporting on New York’s streets in the 1930s to selections from her two unfinished books in the 2000s. Some pieces shed new light on her ideas about cities, economics and ethics that make up her well-known books, like The Death and Life of Great American Cities and The Economy of CitiesOthers explore topics rarely addressed directly in her major works, from skyscrapers to feminism to universal health care to gentrification. Most importantly, Vital Little Plans reveals Jacobs as she herself wished to be understood: as a writer who tried to observe human life as closely as she could.
The book includes introductions and annotations that provide historical and biographical context, and connect the dots within Jacobs’ ecology of ideas.
To be published by Random House, October 11, 2016.



Ruth Orkin photo included in video installation at The National Museum of African American History and Culture

October 1, 2016 Comments Off on Ruth Orkin photo included in video installation at The National Museum of African American History and Culture News


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Marion Anderson and Leonard Bernstein, Lewisohn Stadium, NYC, 1947, Copyright Ruth Orkin

The National Museum of African American History and Culture is the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history, and culture. It was established by Act of Congress in 2003, following decades of efforts to promote and highlight the contributions of African Americans. To date, the museum has collected more than 36,000 artifacts. Nearly 100,000 individuals have become charter members of the museum. When the NMAAHC opens on September 24, 2016, it will be the 19th and newest museum of the Smithsonian Institution.