Oct 21, 2021 - Sale 2583

Sale 2583 - Lot 65

Price Realized: $ 7,000
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 8,000 - $ 12,000
Otis Steel Mill. Silver print with the applied thin black border, the image measuring 12 1/2x9 1/2 inches (31.7x23.7 cm.), with Bourke-White's signature, in pencil, on the accompanying mount 19 3/4x14 1/4 inches (50.2x36.2 cm.). 1927-29

Additional Details

As a young child, Bourke-White's father took her to the steel foundry that was forging his printing presses. She recounted in her 1963 autobiography, "To me at that age, a foundry represented the beginning and end of all beauty…[it] was so vivid and alive that it shaped the whole course of my career."

In 1927, after a sporadic college education and a failed marriage, Bourke-White moved to Cleveland. One of her early assignments was documenting the inner workings of the Otis Steel Mill where her interest in the subject matter drove her to capture the molten lava in such a detailed and dramatic manner that the varnish on her camera would often blister. She also would use the fabric from her dress as a focusing cloth over her camera.

Bourke-White's ability to endow a sense of drama and romance to these and other formidable steel structures would make Bourke-White a nationally recognized photographer by the end of the 1920s and for decades following.

The Photographs of Margaret Bourke-White (Bonanza Books), p. 32 (variant).