Medium

Ruth Orkin was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on 3 September 1921. Orkin grew up in Hollywood in its heyday, due to her mother’s career. She developed a passion for photography from the age of ten, receiving her first camera, a 39-cent Unisex. At the age of seventeen, Orkin made national headlines by cycling from Los Angeles to New York to see the 1939 World’s Fair, photographing her journey along the way.

Orkin briefly attended Los Angeles City College for photojournalism in 1940, prior to becoming the first messenger girl at MGM Studios in 1941, fuelled by her desire to become a cinematographer. She left the position after discovering the union did not allow female members. She joined the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps during World War II. By 1943, she had moved to New York permanently, and had begun working as a freelance photo-journalist.

Orkin began working as a nightclub photographer, receiving her first assignment in 1945 from The New York Times to shoot Leonard Bernstein, the American composer, conductor and pianist. She went on to work for various magazines, taking photo-essays and portraits. She contributed to Life, Look, Ladies’ Home Journal and others.

In 1951 Life magazine sent her to Israel with the Israeli Philharmonic. She was then sent to Florence, Italy. There, she photographed Nina Lee Craig for the series Don’t be Afraid to Travel Alone, which included an image of Craig confidently walking past a group of ogling Italian men in Florence. The image is called American Girl in Italy and is now perhaps her most celebrated image.

Orkin taught photography at the School of Visual Arts, New York, in the late 1970s, and at the International Center of Photography in the 1980s. Ruth Orkin died in New York on 16 January 1985.

Established
Represented by industry leading galleries.
Selected exhibitions
2021
Ruth Orkin: A Centennial CelebrationPDNB Gallery
2019
Masters of PhotographyHuxley-Parlour
2016
Shrines to Speed Art And The Automobile: From The Minimal To The PostmodernLeila Heller Gallery
View all

Brothers, Hyde Park, London, 1951

Photograph
11 × 14 in
27.9 × 35.6 cm
$1,500
Location
Greenwich, New York, Nantucket, Palm Beach
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Medium

Ruth Orkin was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on 3 September 1921. Orkin grew up in Hollywood in its heyday, due to her mother’s career. She developed a passion for photography from the age of ten, receiving her first camera, a 39-cent Unisex. At the age of seventeen, Orkin made national headlines by cycling from Los Angeles to New York to see the 1939 World’s Fair, photographing her journey along the way.

Orkin briefly attended Los Angeles City College for photojournalism in 1940, prior to becoming the first messenger girl at MGM Studios in 1941, fuelled by her desire to become a cinematographer. She left the position after discovering the union did not allow female members. She joined the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps during World War II. By 1943, she had moved to New York permanently, and had begun working as a freelance photo-journalist.

Orkin began working as a nightclub photographer, receiving her first assignment in 1945 from The New York Times to shoot Leonard Bernstein, the American composer, conductor and pianist. She went on to work for various magazines, taking photo-essays and portraits. She contributed to Life, Look, Ladies’ Home Journal and others.

In 1951 Life magazine sent her to Israel with the Israeli Philharmonic. She was then sent to Florence, Italy. There, she photographed Nina Lee Craig for the series Don’t be Afraid to Travel Alone, which included an image of Craig confidently walking past a group of ogling Italian men in Florence. The image is called American Girl in Italy and is now perhaps her most celebrated image.

Orkin taught photography at the School of Visual Arts, New York, in the late 1970s, and at the International Center of Photography in the 1980s. Ruth Orkin died in New York on 16 January 1985.

Established
Represented by industry leading galleries.
Selected exhibitions (3)
Other works by Ruth Orkin
Other works from Cavalier Ebanks Galleries
Related works