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Fort Peck Dam, Montana, 1936

Fort Peck Dam, Montana, 1936
gelatin silver print, mounted on board
signed in pencil (mount, recto); stamped photographer's credit (mount, verso)
image/sheet: 13 1/4 x 9 in. (33.6 x 22.8 cm.)
mount: 15 5/8 x 13 1/8 in. (39.7 x 33.3 cm.)
Christie's, New York, April 16, 1991, lot 60;
Galerie Zur Stockeregg, Zurich;
their sale; Christie's, New York, October 4, 1999, lot 43;
acquired from the above sale by the present owner.
Sean Callahan, Margaret Bourke-White Photographer, Little, Brown and Company, Boston, 1998, pp. 77-78, for other images from this series.
Special notice
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Lot Essay

By the 1930s Margaret Bourke-White was recognized as one of the preeminent documentary photographers of her time. Early in the decade she attracted international attention with her iconic images of emerging industries in Germany and in Russia. In 1936 Time Inc. Editor-In-Chief Henry Luce, with whom Bourke-White worked frequently, called on the twenty-five-year-old photographer to join him on his new magazine, Life. He offered her the front cover and lead story–about the Fort Peck Dam in Montana–and a lead position as one of only four staff photographers.

Bourke-White's images from the Fort Peck Dam continue her investigation of Modern monuments of the Machine Age. The image in the present lot emphasizes the formidable strength of the crashing water spilling over this impressive manmade construction. Building of the dam began in 1933 as a major project of the Public Works Administration and Bourke-White's images of the site show the dam at its peak, when more than 10,000 people were employed there. The present lot is a vintage print of an image from this same series on the Fort Peck Dam, Montana as the image that appeared on the cover of the inaugural Life magazine on November 23, 1936.

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