Mary Engel Speaking at SVA

Mary Engel discussing the Engel/Orkin Archive, part of the i3 Lecture Series at the School of Visual Arts (October 10, 2023)

Ruth Orkin: A Photo Spirit

Classic portraits, New York scenes and more from the brilliant and indefatigable American photographer. Co-edited by Mary Engel.

Wall Street Journal 2021 holiday gift guide pick

American photographer Ruth Orkin earned acclaim for her work as she combined her love for travel and her experience growing up in Hollywood into a practice that captured the cinematic elements of everyday life and revealed the humanity of the upper crust.

The atmospheric photographs taken by Orkin in cities such as Florence, New York and London still shape the image of these metropolises today: her street scenes consistently offer penetrating insights into the personality of her human subjects as well as their environments. This unique quality also manifests in her celebrity portraits of figures such as Albert Einstein, Marlon Brando, Tennessee Williams and Lauren Bacall: though clearly posed, these photographs offer a certain level of candor that allows the viewer to connect with the sitters on a human level. She also pursued filmmaking with two successful features, Little Fugitive (1953) and Lovers and Lollipops (1955)—and she did all of this as one of the few female practitioners in the field.

Published on the occasion of what would have been the photographer’s 100th birthday, this illustrated volume celebrates Orkin’s life and career with an equally extensive and fascinating overview of this exceptional artist’s oeuvre.

Ruth Orkin (1921–85) studied at Los Angeles City College. Working as a freelance photographer, she published in magazines such as Life, Look and Ladies’ Home Journal. She was awarded an Oscar for the film Little Fugitive, which she made with her husband in 1953. A World Through My Window (1978) is her best-known book of photographs.

WNYC Radio Interview

On September 16, 2021, Alison Stewart interviews Mary Engel and curator Amanda Hajjar regarding Fotografiska’s groundbreaking exhibit featuring Ruth Orkin’s oeuvre, title “Expressions of Life.” Listen to the conversation here!

B&H Photo’s Explora Blog: A Photographic Legacy from Ruth Orkin to her Daughter

Photo District News editor and technical photography author Jill Waterman has just written a wonderful article about Ruth Orkin’s photo legacy over in the B&H Photo Explora Blog. The article entitled “Continuity of Purpose: A Photographic Legacy from Ruth Orkin to Her Daughter” explores the relationship between Ruth Orkin and her daughter Mary, who now manages her mom’s legacy via the Orkin Photo Archives.

As we prepare to celebrate the 2021 centennial of Ruth Orkin’s birth, we’d like to thank B&H Photo and Jill Waterman for writing this lovely article. You can read the full article over at the B&H website.

Recent News
News Archive