Ryszard Horowitz was born in Krakow in Poland in 1939. Four months later the Nazis invaded and his entire family was sent to concentration camps. They miraculously survived and at the war's end were among the few Jewish families who re-established their lives in Krakow. Ryszard is one of the youngest known survivors of Auschwitz.
Ryszard studied art at the High School of Fine Arts in Krakow and majored in painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in his home city. In 1956 during a brief political and cultural thaw in Poland, the government awarded subsidies to encourage new and original art forms, and Krakow suddenly emerged as a center of avant-garde jazz, painting, theater and filmmaking. Ryszard, who was seventeen at the time, took full advantage of being at the heart of the action and consequently became fascinated with American photography.
In 1959, he achieved his ambition of immigrating to the United States and enrolled at New York's Pratt Institute. While at Pratt he earned a scholarship to be apprenticed to Alexey Brodovitch, a highly influential figure in the world of editorial design and photography. After graduating from Pratt in 1963, Ryszard worked for a number of film and design companies and as an art director for Grey Advertising.
In 1967 he left Grey and opened his own photography studio. Photography became his lifelong career and passion. In the ensuing four decades, his work has been exhibited, published and collected around the globe, and Ryszard has been awarded many major accolades including the Gloria Artis Gold Medal of Merit to Culture awarded by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Poland and Doctor Honoris Causa awarded by the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts. He also has been recognized as a pioneer of special effects photography predating digital imaging.
In 2006 while searching his archives, Ryszard rediscovered jazz photo negatives from the mid-1950s and early 1960s. The work combined his two life-long passions: jazz and photography. The photographer was invited by the Newport Jazz Festival to mount an exhibition there in the summer of 2007 featuring his black and white jazz photographs. In 2008 his jazz exhibition was held at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York, and it later traveled throughout Europe.