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MARGARET BOURKE-WHITE (1904-1971)
PROPERTY FROM A CALIFORNIA COLLECTION
MARGARET BOURKE-WHITE (1904-1971)

"From the Sixty First Floor", Chrysler Building

Details
MARGARET BOURKE-WHITE (1904-1971) "From the Sixty First Floor", Chrysler Building Gelatin silver print. 1930. Signed and titled in pencil on the mount. 127/8 x 9in. (32.7 x 22.9cm.) Framed.
Provenance
With Simon Lowinsky Gallery, New York;
to the present owner.
Literature
See: Silverman, For The World to See, p. 58.

Lot Essay

Just after her return from Russia in the fall of 1930 Bourke-White moved into a studio on the sixty-first floor of the newly completed Chrysler building where later that year she would write Eyes on Russia. Before her trip to the Soviet Union she had kept a studio in the Terminal Tower in Cleveland, but after photographing the the new building for Chrysler she decided that she had to move. Chrysler had hired her to document the integral nature of the tower without which they would not be able to claim that the 1,046 foot structure was the tallest in the world.

Bourke-White was initially denied a lease by the landlords who were reluctant to rent such a choice location to a woman. Fortune stepped in and helped her to obtain the space. She even went to such lengths to apply for a position as a janitor with the hopes of living as well as working in the studio. Bourke-White was particularly taken with the gargoyles at each of the four corners of the tower, fondly naming those outside her studio Min and Bill. In addition to its spectacular views and architecture her studio was equally well appointed inside. The entire room was fitted with custom built furniture by the art-deco designer John Vassos. Architectural Forum highlighted her studio in its January 1932 issue.

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