The Road to Reno

The Road to Reno was Inge Morath’s book about her first trip across the United States following a red grease-pencil line drawn by her traveling companion, Henri Cartier-Bresson. In 1960 the two drove from New York through Gettysburg, Memphis, and Albuquerque to Reno. They were among 18 photojournalists commissioned by Magnum to document the Nevada set of Arthur Miller’s The Misfits.

The destination was momentous for Morath–she took remarkable photographs, and later married Miller after his divorce from Marilyn Monroe–but it is the trip, the 18 days she spent traveling, as documented in both photographs and journal entries, (“written each night at the table in a motel room that was always in a different place but always looked the same”), that in its casualness can unfold for readers her carefully observed, insightful, and compassionate approach to reportage.

Traveling westward, Morath combines a foreigner’s awe of alien terrain with the curiosity of small-town life, offering glimpses into rather than encapsulations of her experience at each stop.

Her entry for Las Vegas -“receives you wearing stage makeup in full daylight with the sophistication of a ham actor in an ambulant road show. Morath’s photographs from this trip are humorous and ironic and occasionally,and atypically disdainful. echoing Robert Frank’s The Americans (1958); though with a lighter valence. Her pictures condemn the kitschy spaces, and the typical disrespect for older, often handsomer structures .

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