Ruth Orkin


Ruth Orkin Biography

American, 1921-1985

Ruth Orkin was an award-winning photojournalist and filmmaker. At the age of 10, she received her first camera, a 39 cent Univex. She began by photographing her friends and teachers at school. At 17 years old she took a monumental bicycle trip across the United States from Los Angeles to New York City to see the 1939 World’s Fair, and she photographed along the way.
Orkin moved to New York in 1943, where she worked as a nightclub photographer and shot baby pictures by day to buy her first professional camera. She worked for all the major magazines in 1940s, and also went to Tanglewood during the summers to shoot rehearsals.
In 1951, LIFE magazine sent her to Israel with Israeli Philharmonic. Orkin then went to Italy, and it was in Florence where she met Nina Lee Craig, an art student and fellow American, who became the subject of “American Girl in Italy.” The photograph was part of a series originally titled “Don’t Be Afraid to Travel Alone” about what they encountered as women traveling alone in Europe after the war.

1999, Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York, NY
1999, Jan Kesner Gallery, Los Angeles. CA
1998, Irving Galleries, Palm Beach, FL
1998, Michael H. lord Gallery, Milwaukee, WI
1995, International Center of Photography, New York, NY
1994, Witkin Gallery, New York, NY
1988, Photo Gallery International, Tokyo. Japan
1985, Witkin Gallery, New York, NY
1979-85, Rizzoli Bookstore, New York, NY
1983, Equivalents Gallery, Seattle, WA
1982, Douglas Elliot Gallery, San Francisco, CA
1982, Rizzoli Bookstore, Costa Mesa, Chicago, IL
1981, Witkin Gallery, New York, NY
1980, Atlanta Gallery of Photography, Atlanta, GA
1979, International Center of Photography, New York, NY
1979, University of Akron, Akron, OH
1979, Rizzoli Bookstore, Chicago, IL
1979, Afterimage Gallery, Dallas, TX
1978, Milwaukee Center of Photography, Milwaukee, WI
1978, Kiva Gallery, Boston, MA
1974, Nikon House, New York, NY
1977, Witkin Gallery, New York, NY
1977, Enjay Gallery, Boston, MA

1999, The American Century, Art & Culture. 1900-1950, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
1997, Defining Eye: Women Photographers of the 20th Century. St. Louis Art Museum, St. Louis, MO
1997, A History of Women Photographers, The New York Public Library, New York, NY
1989, The Human Element: Black and White Photography. California State University, Long Beach, CA
1988, International Center of Photography, New York, NY
1959-67, Master Photographs from ‘Photography in the Fine Arts’ Exhibition,
1987, Diamonds are Forever: Artists and Writers on Baseball. NY State Museum, Albany, NY
1987, Masters of Starlight, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA
1986, New York: The City and Its People. Working People’s Palace, Beijing, China
1986, Cross Examinations. Mendocino Art Center, Mendocino, CA
1986, Women Photographers Now, A.I.R. Gallery, New York, NY
1985, American Images, 1945- 1980. Barbican Art Gallery, London, England
1985, Collecting New York: Recent Acquisitions. Museum of the City of New York, New York, NY
1981, Manhattan Observed. New York Historical Society, New York, NY
1981, Art of the Olmstead Landscape. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
1978, Photographic Crossroads: The Photo League, International Center of Photography ,
1964, The World and Its People. The World’s Fair, New York, NY
1955, The Family of Mon, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
1950, Young Photographers, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY

Amon Carter Museum, Houston, TX
Center for Creative Photography, Tucson, AZ
International Center of Photography, New York, NY
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
Milwaukee Museum of Art, Milwaukee, WI
Museum of the City of New York, New York, NY
Museum of Fine Art, Houston, TX
Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
Museum of Art, Hamburg, Germany
New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans, LA
New York Historical Society, New York, NY
Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, CA
St. Louis Art Museum, St, Louis, MO
Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, MA
Yale University Art Museum, New Haven, CT

1984, Certificate of Merit, The Municipal Art Society of NY
1980, 1st Annual Manhattan Cultural Award in Photography
1959, Voted one of “Top Ten Woman Photographer’s in the US” by Professional Photographers of America Poll
1951, 3rd-Prize Winner, LIFE magazine’s first “Young Photographer’s Contest”

Jun, 1995, The Toronto Stat; “Out of the Picture: Bringing the Art of Ruth Orkin Back to Focus,” by Susan Walker
Apr, 1995, The New York Times, “Candid or Contrived? The Making of a Classic,” by Shaun Considine
Jun, 1995, The New York Times, “Beyond that Single, Famous Picture,” by Charles Hagen
Jun, 1977, Popular Photography, “Ruth Orkin: Gravure Portfolio,” by Nancy Stevens
Jan, 1998, Milwaukee journal Sentinel, “A Gift for Knowing Just When to Click,” by James Auer
Mar, 1999, Los Angeles Times, “The Unexpected in the Everyday,” by David Pagel
Sep, 1982, Harper’s Bazaar, “Over 40 in the Arts,” by Sheila Feldman
Dec, 1979, Chicago Sun- Times, “Orkin -This Woman Has Eyes,” by David Elliot
May, 1975, Camera 35, “Frontier Woman,” by Sarah Webb Barrell

1995, Ruth Orkin: A Retrospective, The Estate of Ruth Orkin
1983, More Pictures From My Window, Rizzoli
1981, A Photo journal, A Studio Book, The Viking Press
1978, A World Through My Window, Harper and Row

1976-78, School of Visual Arts, New York, NY
1980, International Center of Photography, New York, NY

Editor, Co-director and Co-writer
National Film Registry, Library of Congress, 1997
Academy Award Nomination for Best Motion Picture Story
Silver Lion, Venice Film Festival
Edinburgh Film Festival
Melbourne Film Festival
Montevideo Festival
The Ten Best Films of 1953: National Board of Review, New York Herald Tribune,
Look, This Week, New York Daily News
Editor, Co-producer, Co-director and Co-writer
Venice Film Festival

1999, The National Museum of Women in the Arts, Defining Eye: Women Photographers of the 20th Century.
1998, American Museum of the Moving Image. Indie NY.
1997, American Film Institute Los Angeles International Film Festival. Los Angeles, CA.
1997, The Avignon/New York Film Festival.
1996, Donnell Media Center, Cine-City: New York on Film and Video.
1996, Nantucket Film Festival. Nantucket, MA.
1995, Filmmakers and the Archive
1992, The Brooklyn Museum, From Vitagraph to Spike Lee: Brooklyn on Film.
1990, American Federation of the Arts, Moving Pictures: Films by Photographers. (traveled to 30 venues)
1986, Whitney Museum of American Art, at Philip Morris. Cinematic Urban Pleasures: New York.
1986, NYC Mayor’s Office of Film. Theatre and Broadcasting, Encores: Great American Films Made in New York. Mark Goodson Theater & MOMA.
1985, 1985 Sixtieth Anniversary Program
1984, The Museum of Modern Art: Cineprobe
1949-73, 25 Years of Independent Narratives

Oct, 1997, New York Press. “Coney Island Baby,” C.J. Sullivan
Jul-Aug, 1997, Time Out New York, “Shutter to Think,” Michael Freidson
Jul, 1997, Boston Herald, “Engel, Orkin Forged Path for Indies” Paul Sherman
Jul, 1997, LA Weekly, “The Films of Morris Engel with Ruth Orkin,” Paul Malcolm
Jul, 1997, Los Angeles Times, “On Sidewalks of New York: Another Era’s charm,” Susan King
Jul, 1997, The New York Times, “Black and White from Brooklyn, Small Movies Become Morris Engel’s Big Ticket,” Peter M. Nichols
Jul, 1994, Daily Variety, “Disney Nabs ‘Fugitive,’” Beth Laski
Feb, 1979, New York Daily News, “Unforgettable Film is Coming to BAM,” Bob Kappstatter

1995, RUTH ORKIN: FRAMES OF LIFE. Written, produced and directed by Mary Engel. Selected as one of the “Outstanding Documentaries of 1996” by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
     Silver Plaque. Documentary, Arts/Humanities, Chicago Film Festival.
     George Sidney Award, Second place, San Luis Obispo Film Festival.
     Aspen Film Festival, London Film Festival, Nantucket Film Festival. Sundance Film Festival and others.