Fort Peck Dam, Montana

A work made of gelatin silver print.

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  • A work made of gelatin silver print.

Date:

1936

Artist:

Margaret Bourke–White
American, 1904–1971

About this artwork

For the inaugural issue of Life magazine, Margaret Bourke-White was assigned to photograph the succession of dams along the Columbia River basin initiated by the Public Works Administration. She recalled being instructed by the publication’s owner, Henry Luce, “to watch out for something on a grand scale that might make a cover.” The image of Fort Peck Dam’s spillway showcases advancements in modern hydropower technology while also treating the concrete structures as stately, ancient monuments. This first cover of Life set the visual tone for the magazine and simultaneously launched Bourke-White into a pathbreaking career in photojournalism; she later became the first female war correspondent and the first female photographer to fly on a combat mission. This print was acquired by the Art Institute one year after Bourke-White held a solo exhibition at the museum.

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Photography

Artist

Margaret Bourke-White

Title

Fort Peck Dam, Montana

Origin

New York City

Date

1936

Medium

Gelatin silver print

Inscriptions

Unmarked recto; inscribed verso, on mount, upper left, in purple and black ink: "LIFE [underlined] 'S FIRST COVER, PHOTOGRAPH OF [purple] / Fot Peck Dam, MONTANA / MARGARET BOURKE-WHITE / 1936 [in black ink]"; verso, on mount, upper right, in graphite: "6 74 [underlined] / LM / B.W."

Dimensions

49.1 × 38.9 cm (image/paper); 71.2 × 55.9 cm (mount)

Credit Line

Photography Purchase Fund

Reference Number

1957.139

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email .

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