Moments in history
Size: 22x26 cm
One of the first photojournalists in the history of photography
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In the male-dominated world of American photography Margaret Bourke-White (1904-1971)
was a media star. Her portrait in flying gear setting off on a bombing raid, smiling and holding
a camera in her left hand, was a favourite pin-up of the forces. Margaret Bourke-White always
had to fight to get on. She wouldn’t let closed doors keep her out. The cover photo of
the first ever issue of Life for November 1936 was by her, and to keep things simple she
wrote the story behind it as well.
The book presenting the work of the photographer consists of 154 photographs, letters
and periodicals. The focus is on the pictures she took in the 1930s and 40s in the former
Soviet Union, former Czechoslovakia, Germany, the UK and Italy. Also shown are such typical
Bourke-White photographs as those she did for Eastern Airlines and the Chrysler Corporation.
In the documentation section some of her word-picture sequences for the photo
Press kit: Margaret Bourke-White. Photographs 1930 -1945 19/12/2012 | Seit
magazines Fortune and Life are on view as well as extracts from her correspondence with
personalities from the worlds of politics and culture, such as Winston Churchill and Georgia
Her pictures testify to her “unquenchable desire to be present when history is being made”,
as she herself put it. Bourke-White wanted to be the “eyes of the age”. For Life magazine,
then one of the best known and most ambitious ventures in photojournalism, she travelled
around the whole world.
Her career began in 1927 in Cleveland, where she photographed the city’s steel mills. She
travelled to the USSR when the first five-year plan was being implemented, and documented
the droughts of 1934 in the USA, the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, and the
Allied bombing of Germany. In summer 1945 she was commissioned by Life magazine to
make a photographic record of the destroyed German cities. Bourke-White was present at
the liberation of the Buchenwald concentration camp and the Leipzig-Mockau forced labour
camp. Her photo “The Living Dead of Buchenwald” went round the world.
Her pictures often graced the covers of Fortune and Life, for which she worked for many
years. Sometimes she made the headlines herself, as when on 22 January 1943 Life magazine
published her report on an air raid on the El Aouina airfield in Tunis – the Germans’
main air base for supplying their troops in North Africa from Sicily – under the title “Life's Bourke-White Goes Bombing”. Her pictures stand for an era.