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     Margaret bourke-white

Margaret Bourke-White
“No image is unimportant to me. "
Margaret Bourke-White
"  Photography is a subtle thing. You must let the device take you by the hand and lead you to your subject.  "  Margaret bourke-white


Margaret Bourke-White

She received her first camera, a used 3 ¼ x 4 ¼ inch ICA Reflex with a cracked lens, taking her first photos on glass plates.

ICA Reflex 3 ¼ x 4 ¼ pouces

ICA Reflex 3 ¼ x 4 ¼ inches

Margaret Bourke-White statue de la liberté

American photoreporter.

Famous photoreporter, Margaret Bourke-White has established herself in a predominantly male environment. At the heart of major historical events, it transmitted some of the most striking images of the 20th century, some of which have become icons. Daughter of an amateur photographer engineer, she perfected her practice - acquired at Columbia - at the University of Michigan and began to sell some pictorialist style photographs in 1924. Two years later, after her divorce, she resumed her studies, then graduated from Cornell University in 1927. From then on, she began a career as an architectural photographer in Cleveland. His production at the time has great affinities, on the one hand with that of the American current of straight photography, initiated by Paul Strand, on the other hand with the European modernist movement launched by Laszlò Moholy-Nagy. His photographs "  pure  », Produced in the steelworks of the Otis Steel Company between 1927 and 1928, extol the machine and industrialization in a context of national pride. His commercial success allowed him to open a studio in Cleveland, whose Art Museum rewards industrial images in 1927. Mr. Bourke-White began in photojournalism thanks to the American publisher Henry Luce, who hired him to illustrate the first issue of Fortune magazine, published in February 1930. On the strength of her recent success, she moved into the Chrysler Building in 1930. The same year, she spent five months in the USSR where she photographed industrial installations, the various sites of the five-year plans in class, and become familiar with the photographic visual rhetoric of Soviet propaganda. His photos of Russia, published in Fortune, are the subject of a book  : Eyes on Russia (1931).

Statue of Liberty, New York, 1930
3 1/4 x 4 1/4 RB Auto Graflex 1909-1941
3 1/4 x 4 1/4 RB Auto Graflex 1909-1941

A large Graflex SLR, for its film size this particular camera dates from 1915. Having the longest lifespan of any Graflex SLR, the Auto Graflex was manufactured between 1909 and 1941. It is a old model whose top is hinged at the front. It also has a rotating Graflex back and shutter speeds T + 1/10 to 1/1000 of a second. This one comes equipped with a nice Cooke Anastigmat 8.5 "Series IV brass lens, a fairly expensive option at the time of purchase.

Margaret Bourke-White (1904-1971) American photographer born in New York in the district of the Bronx where she grew up, daughter of Joseph White, of Polish origin, engineer in the printing sector at the "  Hall Printing Press Company  ",  and a mother of Irish and English descent, Minnie Bourke.


    In 1912, at the age of 8, his father took him to visit the rotary press production plant in Duncllen, New Jersey, where castings were produced for the production of rotary presses. Perched from the top of a balcony, she witnesses the pouring of molten metal, with the magic of light, heat and sparks, she is amazed by this spectacle, which forever marks her attachment to industrial beauty.


    From 1916, his father, also  amateur photographer, introduced him to photography, at the age of 12, she assisted him in his shots, as well as in the development of his prints which he made in a bathtub.


    1918 to 1921, she studied at Plainfield High School in New Jersey, in 1921, entered Columbia University and then in 1922 joined Rutgers University. In 1923, passionate about dance, she changed again to join the University of Michigan, it was from this moment that she began photography by making portraits to illustrate the book of her year of promotion.

    Gifted at writing articles, she was offered a position as a photographic editor for the Faculty's annual newspaper, a position she refused to marry Everett Chapman, a student electrical engineer.


    In January 1922, following the death of her father, she missed a semester, then returned to Columbia University where she took evening classes in photography.  from Clarence H. White,  famous representative of Pictorialist photography, who taught him composition, instilled in him the way of photographing landscapes, with vaporous tones.

    Still not giving up on her dreams of becoming a scientist, she plans to use photography to document her profession. For $ 20, his mother gives him a second-hand Reflex ICA camera with a cracked lens. In order to pay for her schooling, during the summer, she teaches as a teacher, and sells to tourists no less than 2000
      postcards she makes at Camp Agaming on the shores of Bantam Lake in Connecticut.


    After her marriage broke down in 1926, she resumed studies of reptiles and amphibians at Cornell University in the city of Ithaca, where she graduated in biology in 1927.

    With her old camera, she finds again the opportunity to set up a photographic business, to earn a living, and takes as a subject photos of buildings surrounded by snow, frozen waterfalls. The success is such, that despite her hard work, she has to hire two students to help her. At the same time, she takes journalism courses, presents her photos at the "  Cornell Alumni News  Which pays him each coverage, for $ 5.


    In 1927, she moved to Cleveland, to join her mother and brother, and began a career as an industrial photographer. Until then an amateur photographer, she added to her name that of her mother, Bourke, and in 1928 opened her own studio "Bourke-White Photography",  in the Terminal Tower in Cleveland, a skyscraper, just rose from the ground, becoming a freelance professional photographer, specializing in shots of architecture and industrial buildings. Orders for the press are pouring in, she works for manufacturers, "  The Aluminum Company of America  ","  The Standard Oil of Ohio  ","  The Chrysler Corporation  ", For architects, bankers, and numerous magazines," New York Times Magazine "," Vanity Fair ", and" House and Garden ".


    From 1928, she worked to photograph the construction of the "Chrysler Building", to promote it, which allowed her to earn a living.

    Thanks to his photographs taken on behalf of the "
      Otis Steel Company  ", She was noticed for her originality by the publisher Henry Luce, seduced by his pictures of this steelworks, in 1929, he hired for his new magazine"  Fortune  ".


    The following year, in 1930, the magazine sent her to Germany, in order to photograph the Krupp steel factories there, she continued her journey to the Soviet Union, obtained a visa, becoming the first Western photographer authorized to enter the USSR. , she stayed there for more than five weeks, and produced a report on the first five-year plan, photographing factories, farms, dams, and workers, taking no less than three thousand shots.

    The same year, she moved her studio to Cleveland, to  open another in New York on the 61st floor of the Chrysler Building.

  • In the summer of 1931, she went to the USSR for a second time to photograph Magnitogorsk, the immense metallurgical complex in the Kazaksthan region, a report which resulted in the publication of a book "Eyes on Russia". The same year he participated in a group exhibition in New York alongside Ralph Steiner and Walker Evans .


    In 1934, while reporting for Fortune on the water scarcity in the American West, she became aware of human suffering, of the social reality, that of American farmers powerless in the face of the crisis, which led to 'moves away from its advertising work. Outside the framework of the "  Farm Security Administration  She takes part in the situation, photographing the victims of the Dust Bowl like Dorothea Lange .


    In 1935, she produced series of aerial images for various aviation companies, such as the "  Eastern Airlines  ".


    In 1936, as soon as LIFE magazine was launched, Margaret Bourke-White was the magazine's only woman and alongside photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt , one of the four permanent reporters, she featured "  A  From the first issue, November 23, 1936, with its report on the Fort Peck Dam in Montana. The same year she collaborated with her future husband Erskine Caldwell on a book entitled "You Have Seen Their Faces", dealing with rural poverty in the South of the United States.


    In 1938, she went to Czechoslovakia, to document the rise of political events, and published "North of the Danube". In 1939 as a second wedding, she married the writer Erskine Caldwell. It covers the pre-war period of the United Kingdom in Romania, travels through Turkey, Syria and Egypt.


    At the beginning of 1940, for a short period, she collaborated for the New York newspaper "  PM  », But very quickly returned to LIFE.

    During the Second World War, she was the first American photographer accredited and authorized to fly on a combat mission, in areas of military operations for the US Air Force, she worked as a war correspondent for LIFE. She returned to the USSR and found refuge at the American Embassy in Moscow at the time of the German invasion. She photographs other fronts during the conflict in North Africa, Italy, follows General George S. Patton in defeated Germany to the Buchenwald concentration camp, which  'it is one of the first to be discovered, on April 15, 1945.

    After the war, she continued her travels, and devoted herself to humanitarian reports, with other artists, she trained "  the American Artist's Congress  », A left-wing organization, raising public funds, to promote the arts and fight racial discrimination.


    From 1946, she traveled to India and spent three years covering the accession to independence, she followed Mahatma Gandhi's campaign for non-violence, met him and was the last person to interview him.

    On January 30, 1948, six hours before Gandhi's assassination, she spoke with him in the gardens of Birta House in New Delhi, the last moments of a long relationship with this man, his relatives and the whole country.

    "  Just a few hours later, as he was on his way to prayer, this man who believed that non-violence could even defeat atomic bombs fell, shot dead by revolver bullets.  »Margaret Bourke-White


    In 1950, she left for Johannesburg, to document the Apartheid that was rife in South Africa, in order to report on the conditions of workers in the diamond and gold mines, not hesitating to descend more than three kilometers under earth, to bring back exceptional pictures.


    In 1952, while traveling to Korea, to cover the communist guerrillas, she felt the first signs of a terrible disease, the onset of Parkinson's disease.


    In 1955, Edward Steichen , photographic director of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, selected several of his photos for the exhibition “The Family of Man”.


    1957, unable to continue her photographic activity, she took a semi-retirement, and then devoted herself for six years to writing her biography, "Portrait of Myself" which was published in 1963, which quickly became a successful edition.

    In 1957, the Boston Chamber of Commerce awarded him "  the American Woman of Achievement Quote  ", In 1963 the US Camera Magazine awarded him the"  Achievement Award  "And in 1964 the American Society of Magazine Photographers, the award of"  the Honor Roll Award  ".


From her adolescence Margaret Bourke-White dreams of a life full of adventures. It is widely granted and his life is a tumultuous and rich romance. And as a woman with an intrepid character, she knows how to make an eminent place in a man's profession. To get her passport to adventure, she quickly understands that photography is the ideal medium. And his genius for being in the right place at the right time allows him to produce images that have become testimonies, icons. His photos tell stories, but also make history.


"  I don't know of anything else that equals the happy expectation of discovering something new, something you can become in advance, something that only you will find, because in Besides being a photographer, you are a special type of person.  »Margaret Bourke-White

Installed in Cleveland, in contact with black steel factories, she gave up very quickly  the vaporous artistic blurs that she practices at the beginning of her career. His style therefore becomes more precise and better suited to publications in the periodical press. Embracing modernity, she chooses to devote herself to the photography of industrial landscapes, she achieves it through practice, coupled with a good determination to learn on the job.

"  The industrial world, vast and dynamic, is offered to me. »Margaret Bourke-White

Between each trip, book or report for Life magazine, Margaret returns home to New York, where her second home is, the editorial staff of Life, and to Connecticut where her refuge, a large cottage in the middle of the woods, is located.

She quickly discovers that it is  through photography  that all  is best understood.  The geometric patterns that his gaze carves out on the keys of a typewriter, on lathes, plows, suspension bridges, and even on the toga of the Statue of Liberty, enchants him to the point that back, she constructs through her photographs, a sublimated account of progress and symbols, at the dawn of the 20th century.

She is one of the great chroniclers of the modern and mechanical era, she photographs the city of New York in full swing, the equipment and the industrial production processes by employing methods which capture a universe usually perceived as stripped of beauty. Romanizing the extraordinary power of a new world and with close-ups, lighting effects, unusual perceptives, she creates artistic compositions, visual feats of strength that show her understanding of modern design and aesthetics. .

"  Another photographer would also take pictures, but they would be different, only you have that singular mental and emotional experience of precisely perceiving the detail of a story and capturing it on gelatin film. »Margaret Bourke-White

Aerial views are ubiquitous and characteristic for the photographer, whose studio is located atop the Chrysler Building, from her top floor window she can see not one, but two shiny, steel gargoyles pointing south- Where is. No other studio is at such a height as hers and time after time she climbs these gargoyles to photograph New York City.   

"  The height does not scare me, here at the top of the Chrysler Building, the welders and riveters gave me a precious rule  : When you are 300 meters above the ground, think you are 3 meters above the ground and relax, the problems are exactly the same. »Margaret Bourke-White

Witnessing the most important events of the 20th century, Margaret Bourke-White captures looks and gestures, powerfully constructs her images and, often through the particular, gives the deep meaning of historical facts. His hundreds of thousands of photographs reflect adventure, sensitivity and courage.

His work is rich in more than 25,000 photographs, now appearing in many museums, the "  Brooklyn museum  " , the "  Cleveland Museum  " , to the "  Bird Library of Syracuse  ", to  "  MoMA  "In New York, as well as at the"  library of congress  From Washington.

Margaret Bourke-White white chrysler building
Margaret Bourke-White

Hydrogenerators, Niagara Falls Power Co, New York, 1928

Margaret Bourke-White, Chrysler Building
(Facade), c.  1930

Buchenwald, Germany, 1945

She manages to account for the different phases of the Second World War, from air raids, through the Italian campaign and the advance in Germany by the allies, until the arrival in 1945 in Buchenwald.

"  I am often asked how it is possible to photograph such atrocities, I have to work with a veil over my soul. When I photograph the death camps the protective veil is so tightly drawn that I hardly know what I am taking until I see the prints, it is like then I was discovering these horrors for the first time. .  »Margaret Bourke-White

Margaret Bourke-White Allemagne, Buchenwald, 1945
Margaret Bourke-White Chisinau, Roumanie, 1940

During the 1930s and early 1940s, her work focused on Europe, she wanted to show the repercussions of Nazism and Communism on living conditions, the militarization of society and the strong ideological orientation transmitted from the first years of school, like this photograph that she takes with a capacity to capture with a simple image, the strong moments of the story, that of a Romanian class in Chisinau, with the pupils raising their arms in the air straight.

Fort Peck Dam, Montana, 1936

Margaret Bourke White Chisinau, Roumanie, 1940

"Des élèves en uniforme de l'école de filles de Chisinau font le salut officiel de la Straga Taree, une organisation de jeunesse roumaine fasciste obligatoire. Février 1940".

Margaret Bourke White : The LIFE picture Collection via Getty

The image is displayed in "  A ”from the first issue of Life Magazine, November 23, 1936. Its director, Henry Luce, wanted something large, gigantic, and imposing. Margaret then made a report on the dam, the largest in the world at the time, built in the prairies of Montana, at Fort Peck. 

Margaret Bourke-White Barrage de Fort-Peck
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