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collections > permanent collections > photographs > margaret bourke-white
 
Margaret Bourke-White
(American, 1904-1971)
Untitled, n.d., c. 1934
Vintage gelatin silver print, 13 ¼” x 9 7/8”
Gift of Joyce Greenberg (97.161)

Known for her penetrating photojournalism, Margaret Bourke-White captured some of the most memorable images of the twentieth century’s progress and upheavals.  Yet even seemingly insignificant subjects were important to Bourke-White, as can be seen in the Museum’s untitled series of insect photographs, datable to about 1934.  In these relatively early works, Bourke-White’s penchant for careful composition, lighting, and artistic design is clearly revealed.  Such sensibilities became almost second nature in her photojournalistic work, giving it added impact.

Bourke-White was born in the Bronx, New York, and attended a variety of colleges before graduating from Cornell University in 1927.  By then, she had developed a strong interest in photography, partly through the influence of Clarence White.  Working as a freelance photographer, she obtained a position with Fortune magazine, and in 1930 became the first American to photograph Soviet industry.  Bourke-White was also one of Life magazine’s “Founding Four” photographers, and her image of the Fort Peck Dam appeared on the cover of Life’s first issue in 1936.  During World War II, Bourke-White made a name for herself as the first woman to cover the battlefront, and in the years to follow, she traveled to India, South Africa, and Korea.  Bourke-White began to suffer from the effects of Parkinson’s disease during the 1950s, and her career subsequently slowed.  She spent her final years in Connecticut, where she died in 1971.