Margaret Bourke-White  (American, 1904-1971) 

Margaret Bourke-White (American, June 14, 1904–August 27, 1971) was a documentary photographer and a photojournalist. Bourke-White is best known as the first female war correspondent and the first to be allowed into combat zones during WWII. She was born in the Bronx, NY, and was raised in a family that believed in equal educational opportunities for their children. Margaret attended several universities in her pursuit of a degree in herpetology, or the study of reptiles. She attended Columbia University in New York, The University of Michigan, Purdue University in Indiana, and Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH. She returned home to finish her degree at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, in 1927.

Although Bourke-White did not pursue a degree in photography in college, her father introduced her to the medium as a young woman. She turned her hobby into a career by opening a studio in Cleveland, where she specialized in architectural and industrial photography. Bourke-White got her start in industrial photography with the Otis Steel Company, in Cleveland, in 1927. At the time, she was considered the premier female industrial photographer.

Bourke-White began her career in photojournalism as the first photographer for Fortune Magazine in 1929. The following year, she was decreed the first woman photographer allowed into the Soviet Union. She was hired by Henry Luce in 1935 as the first staff photographer for the new Life magazine. On November 23, 1936, one of her photographs adorned the front cover of the inaugural addition of the magazine. Her best known photographs are the gripping pictures documenting the Depression in the book You Have Seen Their Faces (1937). The book was a collaboration with her soon to be husband, Erskine Caldwell (American, 1903–1987). She was married to Caldwell for three years, from 1939 to 1942. In April of 1945, she traveled through war ravaged Germany with General Patton. As she took some of the most haunting photographs of the war within the walls of Buchenwald, she said she was glad for the barrier the camera provided. After the war, she produced a book, titled Dear Fatherland, Rest Quietly (1946), as a way to help herself come to grips with the atrocities she had witnessed and captured during the war. Bourke-White developed the first symptoms of Parkinson's disease as a relatively young woman in 1953, and died from the disease in 1971. Throughout her life and after, she received several awards and recognitions.

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Margaret Bourke-White, Gaze of an Old Man


Margaret Bourke-White
Gaze of an Old Man

Auction: Apr 30, 2014
Dallas Auction Gallery
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Margaret Bourke-White, Dahlonega, Georgia from the Collection "Have You Seen Their Faces"


Margaret Bourke-White
Dahlonega, Georgia from the Collection "Have You Seen Their Faces"

Auction: Apr 30, 2014
Dallas Auction Gallery
View Details | entire auction
Margaret Bourke-White, Coiled rod, (ready for drawing into wire), Aluminum Co. of America


Margaret Bourke-White
Coiled rod, (ready for drawing into wire), Aluminum Co. of America

Gallery M
Margaret Bourke-White, South African Gold Miners, Kimberley Mines, Johannesburg


Margaret Bourke-White
South African Gold Miners, Kimberley Mines, Johannesburg

Michael Shapiro Photographs
Margaret Bourke-White, 200-Ton Ladle at Work


Margaret Bourke-White
200-Ton Ladle at Work
Contessa Gallery
Margaret Bourke-White, Hats in the Garment District


Margaret Bourke-White
Hats in the Garment District
Contessa Gallery
Margaret Bourke-White, Fort Peck Dam


Margaret Bourke-White
Fort Peck Dam
Contessa Gallery
Margaret Bourke-White, Crewmen Unloading Huge B-50 Bomber Plane Engine Used as a Spare from the Belly of a C-124 Cargo Plane upon Arrival at Strategic Air Command's Base, Greenland, TX


Margaret Bourke-White
Crewmen Unloading Huge B-50 Bomber Plane Engine Used as a Spare from the Belly of a C-124 Cargo Plane upon Arrival at Strategic Air Command's Base, Greenland, TX
Contessa Gallery
Margaret Bourke-White, Worker on Top of Pine Log Pile


Margaret Bourke-White
Worker on Top of Pine Log Pile
Contessa Gallery
Past auction results (1032)  View All
Margaret Bourke-White, Exodus, Pakistan


Margaret Bourke-White
Exodus, Pakistan, 1947
gelatin silver print


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Margaret Bourke-White, Soukhoz No.2-Rikud, U.S.S.R


Margaret Bourke-White
Soukhoz No.2-Rikud, U.S.S.R, 1930
gelatin silver print, mntd


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Margaret Bourke-White, Accident on the Beach


Margaret Bourke-White
Accident on the Beach, 1950-1955
gelatin silver print


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1904   Born: Bronx, New York
1922   Studied Herpetology(the study of reptiles) at Columbia University
1923   Transferred colleges several times, including: University of Michigan, Purdue University, and Case Western Reserve University
1927   Eventually, graduated from Cornell University with her B.A.
1929 - 1935   Worked as associate editor and staff photographer at Fortune magazine
1936   Was hired by Henry Luce as the first female photojournalist for Life magazine
1936 - 1940   Worked as staff photographer at Life magazine
1939 - 1945   Was the first female war correspondent and the first to be allowed to work in combat zones during World War II, and one of the first photographers to enter and document the death camps.
1948   Received Honorary Doctorate of Letters from Rutgers University, Newark, NJ
1951   Received Honorary Doctorate of Arts from University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
1952 - 1963   Received an Achievement Award from US Camera, 1963
Suffering from Parkinson's Disease, was unable to take photography and concentrated on writing her autobiography, Portrait of Myself
1964   Was awarded Honor Roll Award from American Society of Magazine Photographers
1971   Died: Darien, Connecticut
2011   Pictures by Women: A History of Modern Photography, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
American Modern: Abbott, Evans, Bourke-White, Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, TX
2010   Weltsichten. Landschaft in der Kunst seit dem 17. Jahrhundert, Situation Kunst (für Max Imdahl), Bochum, Germany
2010   “Fortune of Industry” –a retrospective look at how the photograph has shaped industry featuring select works by Margaret Bourke-White, GALLERY M, Denver, CO
2009   The Malcolmson Collection, Presentation House Gallery , North Vancouver, Canada
Ring of Truth, Miami University Art Museum, Oxford, OH
Au féminin(Women Photographing Women), Centre Culturel Calouste Gulbenkian, Paris, France
After Many Springs: Regionalism, Modernism & the Midwest, Des Moines Art Center, Des Moines, IA
Sacred Sight, Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York, NY
2008   Rethinking the Photographic Image, The University of Michigan Museum of Art, Ann Arbor, MI
From the Printed Page: Photographs from the MFAH Collection, Museum of Fine Arts Houston(MFAH), Houston, TX
The Concerned Photographer, The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Colleziona - Forma, Centro Internazionale di Fotografia, Milan, Italy
2007   Apocalypse Now: The Theater of War, CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco, CA
Icons of American Photography, The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH
Know War, George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film, Rochester, NY
2006   Margaret Bourke-White - Galerie Stephen Hoffman, Munich, Germany(solo)
American Icons, Corkin Gallery, Toronto, Canada
Facing Americ. Portraits of the People and the Land, The Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin, OH
2005   Keeping Shadows: Photography from the Worcester Art Museum, Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, AZ
Margaret Bourke-White: Discovered in Cleveland, Contessa Gallery, Cleveland, OH(solo)
Margaret Bourke-White: The Photography of Design, 1927-1936, Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma, WA(solo); traveling to: Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Oklahoma City, OK and Portland Museum of Art, Portland, ME
2004   Margaret Bourke-White, Mint Museum of Art, Charlotte, NC(solo)
Modern Means: Continuity and Change in Art from 1880 to the Present, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan
The Great LIFE Photographers, Contessa Gallery, Cleveland, OH
2003   Working Nine to Five: Vintage Photographs of People at Work, Lee Gallery, Winchester, MA
Histories of Photography, The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Poughkeepsie, NY
2002   Margaret Bourke-White, Stephen Wirtz Gallery, San Francisco, CA(solo)
Vues d'architectures, Photographies XIX et XX, Musee de Grenoble, Grenoble, France
2001   The Photograph and the American Dream - The Stephen White Collection II, 1840-19, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands
2000   Steel & Real Estate: Margaret Bourke-White and Corporate Culture in Cleveland, The College of Wooster Art Museum, Wooster, OH(solo)
Picturing Business - The Photography of Fortune, International Center of Photography, New York, NY
1998   Power and Paper: Margaret Bourke-White, Modernity and the Documentary Mode, Boston University Art Gallery, Boston, MA(solo)
  National Gallery of Canada, Musée des beaux-arts du Canada, Ottawa, Canada
National Media Museum, Bradford, U.K
Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, MA
Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati, OH
Spencer Museum of Art, Lawrence, KS
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA
Montclair Art Museum, Montclair, NJ
Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York, NY
Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
Ogunquit Museum of American Art, Ogunquit, ME
The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Poughkeepsie, NY
The Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego, CA
1998    Callahan, Sean. Margaret Bourke-White: Photographer.Bulfinch: New York
1986    Goldberg, Vicki. Margaret Bourke-White: A Biography
1983    Silverman, Jonathon.The Life of Magaret Bourke-White
1963    Bourke-White, Magaret. The Portrait of Myself. Simon & Schuster: New York