Lot Content

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Fort Peck Dam, Montana, 1936
gelatin silver print, mounted on board, printed 1940s
signed in pencil (mount, recto); stamped photographer's credit (mount, verso)
image: 12 5/8 x 10 3/8 in. (32 x 26.3 cm.)
sheet: 12 7/8 x 10 5/8 in. (32.7 x 26.9 cm.)
mount: 20 x 16 in. (50.8 x 40.7 cm.)
Acquired from the artist by Lee Witkin, New York, c. 1971;
Private collection, Connecticut;
Edwynn Houk Gallery, Chicago;
acquired from the above by the present owner.
LIFE Magazine, November 23, 1936, cover.
Sean Callahan (ed.), The Photographs of Margaret Bourke-White, Bonanza Books, New York, 1972, p. 108.
Terence Heath et al., Margaret Bourke-White: Photographs, Jane Corkin Gallery, Toronto, 1988, p. 41.
Sean Callahan, Margaret Bourke-White: Photographer, Bulfinch Press, Boston, 1998, p. 77.
New York, Witkin Gallery, Margaret Bourke-White, 1971.
Ithaca, New York, Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, An American Portrait: Photographs from the Collection of Diann and Thomas Mann, April 1–June 12, 1994, no. 50.

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 thirty-two-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 position as one of only four staff photographers. The image that appeared on the cover of the magazine on November 23, 1936 is the image offered in the present lot.

This seminal image of Fort Peck Dam is from Bourke-White’s investigation of Modern monuments of the Machine Age. Construction on 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 an early, mounted print and, as such, a rare example to appear at market.

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