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Photographs / Ruth Orkin (1921-1985); Jimmy The Raconteur (Jimmy the Storyteller);

Lot 18
Ruth Orkin
Jimmy "The Raconteur" (Jimmy the Storyteller)
23 August 2022, 10:00 EDT
New York

US$10,000 - US$15,000

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Ruth Orkin (1921-1985)

Jimmy "The Raconteur" (Jimmy the Storyteller), 1946
15 gelatin silver prints and two reproductions, bound into a small 4to. album, unique in this format and printed c. 1960, each numbered consecutively and with a typed or handwritten caption in ink on the mount (the album page); title 'The Raconteur' in ink on a label affixed on the cover; 'Central Park West' label affixed on the inside cover.
prints each approximately 4 1/2 x 5 1/2in (11.3 x 14cm)
volume 6 x 8 1/2in (15.2 x 21.6cm) overall


Orkin, A Photo Journal, Viking Press, 1981, p. 32
Ruth Orkin: A Retrospective, International Center for Photography, New York, May-July, 1995 (exhibition catalogue), pp. 32-33
Cornic, Morris Engel, Ruth Orkin: Outside - From Street Photography to Filmmaking, Carlotta Films, 2014, p. 91
Engel & Gresh, Ruth Orkin: A Photo Spirit, pp. 12-13 and pp. 52-55

Orkin's first published picture story was "Jimmy tells a Story" which appeared in Look in March 1947. It was made in 1946 on the first roll of film she exposed with her 35mm Contax camera.

Orkin's handwritten or typed captions for each of the images are as follows:

Paulette Goddard in "Kitty"
1. Her mudder's walkin down dah street when a woman trows dah slops out dah window...
2. Her mudder says, who do you tink you are, trowin slop on me...
3. Den Kitty goes out and sees dah king wid dah slippers...
4. Remember when she walks in dah house for dah pichah? She looks at dah guy like "poo" and pulls down her dress...
5. Kitty servin dah coffee...Milk and shugah Lady Susan...?
6. Heh sees dah guy...GIVE HER SHUGAH!
7. Dah crazy man was chasin her aroun dah room & he grabbed her right at dah behind!
8. Kitty says "ah" - & he starts cryin.
10. [so numbered] She opened dah box so he hit her and she fell down.
10. Den die udder girl comes and grabs a poker
12. [so numbered] An dah guy falls down like dis...
12. [so numbered] Den anudder woman chases her up dah stairs and yells you won't get away wit dis.. You won't get away wit dis...!
14. [so numbered] Den dee udder woman screams and falls down dah stairs...
15. Wait... I'll go bacak a little fudder, I skipped some...
13. [so numbered] Dah two men come in and deh say ooooh! when dey see her dere for dah pichah...
16. Kitty was havin a baby...dah king was goin back
17. He starts tunblin down dah stairs. All of em are scared of him. I liked her bestest when she was dirty.

In 1947, I took Jimmy, The Storyteller sequence up to The Museum of Modern Art. Several days later, I received a letter from Edward Steichen...It read in part, "They are indeed interesting and full of human expression, I should like to see more of your work." After that, I was included in all the group photography shows held at the Museum until Steichen left in 1952.

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