Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The 60th Anniversary of the "American Girl in Italy" photograph by Ruth Orkin



An American Girl in Italy, 1951


August 22, 2011 marks the 60th anniversary of the photograph “American Girl in Italy by Ruth Orkin (1921-1985). The subject of this famous photograph is Ninalee Craig (then known as Jinx Allen), who now lives in Toronto.

The two were talking about their shared experiences traveling alone as young single women, when Orkin had an idea. “Come on,” she said, “lets go out and shoot pictures of what it’s really like.” In the morning, while the Italian women were inside preparing lunch, Jinx gawked at statues, asked military officials for directions, fumbled with lire and flirted in cafes while Orkin photographed her. Orkin’s best known image, “American Girl in Italy” was also created as part of this series.

Ruth Orkin was 17 when she took a cross-country trip by herself, bicycling and hitchhiking from her home in Los Angeles to New York, snapping pictures along the way. She later moved to New York, where this spirit of adventure continued. She  photographed Tanglewood’s summer music festival, honed her craft in nightclubs, joined the Photo League, and with her first published story in Look magazine, became “a fullfledged photojournalist.” In 1951, Life sent her on assignment to Israel and from there she went to Italy.

Exhibition: Stephen Bulger Gallery