From society balls to Marilyn and Audrey in their heyday: Fifties elegance captured by woman who opposed Hitler and survived to become one of the world's greatest post-war photographers
- Austrian-born Inge Morath refused to join the Hitler Youth while studying in Germany during WWII
- Forced to work alongside Ukrainian prisoners and after the war joined the famous Magnum Photos Agency
- Morath was one of two women at the agency in the 1950s, was assigned to debutantes, balls, and models
- She went on to photograph the likes of Yves Saint Laurent, Audrey Warhol and 1950s Hollywood starlets
In a society where yoga pants rule everyday wear and dating apps are the new normal, the era of Audrey Hepburn's little black dress and high society Cotillion balls seem like they happened centuries ago.
But a window into a world where Marilyn Monroe dominated the headlines and 1950s Hollywood glamour reigned supreme is now being offered in the new book Inge Morath: On Style.
Although she came of age during World War II in Nazi Germany, the late Austrian-born American photographer Morath, who died in 2002, was never attracted to filming death and destruction.
This intimate photo of Marilyn Monroe (on the set of The Misfits in 1960) is included in the new book Inge Morath: On Style, featuring some of the Austrian-born American photographer's best work from the era
Morath, who grew up in Nazi Germany, photographed a number of famous subjects, including actress Audrey Hepburn (pictured here in 1959)
Her photographs are a window into the decadence of post-war America and some of its biggest stars, including Andy Warhol (who is pictured here with French-American artist Louise Bourgeois)
Morath was studying at Berlin University when she refused to join the Hitler Youth at the height of the war.
She was thus drafted to work alongside Ukrainian prisoners of war in an airplane factory, which she was forced to flee on foot and return to Austria when it came under attack by Russian bombers.
Morath worked as a journalist after the war and was one of the first women hired to join the famous Magnum Photos Agency in Paris, according to New York Magazine.
She was one of only two women who worked at the agency in the 1950s and thus was often assigned to photograph the likes of debutantes, models, balls and beauty schools.
Morath became known for her ability to capture intimacy within the era's extravagance, including this private moment backstage Yves Saint Laurent's fashion show debut for Dior in 1957
In this picture, Morath photographs actress and Hollywood sex symbol Jayne Mansfield taking a bath in the heart-shaped tub at her Los Angeles home in 1959
Along with Hollywood icons, Morath offered glimpses of high society glamour - such as this photograph of the Ball of the Concordia at the Vienna Town Hall in 1961
But it was how Morath, who went on to marry and collaborate with playwright Arthur Miller, filmed her subjects - rather than who they were - that helped make her one of the greatest photographers of the post-war decade.
Whether it was Audrey and Marilyn behind her lens or everyday American women at a beauty school, Morath had an eye for capturing 'life's brilliant theatricality', John Jacob, the McEvoy curator for photography at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, explains in the book's afterword .
It wasn't the fashion, the 'seasonal changes of attire', that Morath was interested in, Jacob explains, but rather the 'social relations of appearance' and the 'endurance of the human creative spirit in conditions of transformation and duress'.
It wasn't the fashion, the 'seasonal changes of attire', that Morath was interested in but rather private backstage moments that captured the 'human spirit' - such as these women after a Dior show in Oxfordshire in 1954
Morath captures 1950s actress Terry Moore, who starred in Mighty Joe Young, as she prepares on set in 1959
Morath also enjoyed photographing everyday women, including these beauty school students at the Helena Rubinstein Beauty Salon in New York in 1958
Thus it is not Yves Saint Laurent's debut fashion show that we see, but rather the soon-to-be iconic designer preparing a gown backstage.
Nor does Morath show us Audrey in her iconic black Breakfast at Tiffany's Givenchy dress, instead photographing the star behind a simple cracked wall, make-up free and only accessorized with a wide-brim hat.
Also included in the collection are photos of actresses Ingrid Bergman and Jayne Mansfield, as well as everyday women in England, France and the US navigating life and searching for glamour in the postwar decades.
And no matter if it was a Hollywood celebrity or a woman simply window shopping on Fifth Avenue in front of her camera, Morath always made sure to help them find it.
Monroe, her face hidden by a black veil, also graces the cover of Morath's new book
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