Vignelli Center
for Design Studies
Rochester Institute of Technology

Ryszard Horowitz

An exhibition of photographs by Horowitz was presented in the University Gallery at RIT in 2016.


Horowitz was born in Kraków, Poland on May 5th, 1939. Four months later, Ryszard’s entire family were forced into concentration camps following the German invasion of Poland. From September 1944 he was imprisoned at Auschwitz and later became known as being among the youngest known people to survive Auschwitz concentration camp and to be listed on Schindler’s list. At the war’s end, five-year old Ryszard was reunited with his family after his mother found him in an orphanage, and they re-established themselves in Kraków.


Ryszard Horowitz and Anya Horowitz



Horowitz began taking pictures at the age of fourteen. For a brief period of time during his childhood he grew up alongside Roman Polański with whom he created his first photographic enlarger from cardboard.


In 1956, the Polish government began awarding subsidies to encourage new and original art forms and Krakow suddenly emerged as a center of avant-garde jazz, painting, theater and filmmaking. For two years, beginning in 1959, Ryszard studied art at the High School of Fine Arts in Kraków and then went on to major in painting at the Academy of Fine Arts. It was at this time that he became interested in photography, particularly the work of American photographers.


Jazz music was of particular interest to Horowitz as a photography student. He photo documented the birth of Polish Jazz and in 1958 photographed jazz legends such as Dave Brubeck, Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and Sonny Rollins at the Newport Jazz Festival.






Ryszard immigrated to the United States in 1959 and enrolled at New York’s Pratt Institute in the commercial and advertising graphic design department. Here he encountered his mentors, Richard Avedon and Alexey Brodovitch. Horowitz took part in weekly seminars led by Brodovitch and worked as an assistant for Avedon in 1963, including at his famous portrait session with Salvador Dali. After graduating from Pratt in 1962, Horowitz began working in film and television and graphic design companies, including a stint as Art Director for Grey Advertising.






In 1967 he opened his own photography studio in New York City. He has developed a successful career in both fine art and commercial photography, but is most well known for creating complex photographic composites, which have been compared to the surrealist artworks of Magritte and Dali. Early in his career, to obtain such effects he used a multitude of photographic techniques such as darkroom retouching, multiple film exposures and manipulation of his camera.



Park Ave’86



Horowitz was depicted as a child in Steven Spielberg’s epic drama Schindler’s List, a film about Oskar Schindler, the German businessman who saved the lives over thousand Polish-Jewish refugees during the Holocaust. He also appeared in an uncredited role in the film as a mourner during the final scene.