This book accompanies the exhibition Ruth Orkin – Bike Trip, USA, 1939 presented from September 19, 2023 to January 14, 202′ at the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson.
In 1939, at the age of 17, Ruth Orkin crossed the United States alone with her bike, her camera and only $25 in her pocket. This “bike trip” across the United States took her from Los Angeles to New York, where she planned to visit the World’s Fair. Her journey and her audacity, exceptional for the time, aroused the curiosity of the local press, which devoted numerous reports to her while she was there. It was during this epic bicycle trip that Ruth Orkin sketched out the beginnings of her photographic style. Her photographs of street scenes, of buildings cut by subtle lighting effects, her poetic and touching images, in which she doesn’t hesitate to stage her metal steed, will be shown for the first time in France at an exhibition at the Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation. In 1951, having become a professional photographer (after working as a courier for MGM studios), Ruth Orkin produced her most famous image, American Girl in Italy, showing a woman traveling alone, under the gaze of the men who surround her and occupy public space, as a nod to her personal experience.
22 x 20 cm
Text by Clément Chéroux
Texts in French
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