Margaret Bourke-White: Twenty Parachutes

March 13 - April 15, 2017

When Margaret Bourke-White was commissioned to photograph the testing of Irving Parachute Co.’s new silk parachute in 1937, she instead recorded an emblematic struggle between natural forces and human ingenuity, between our limitations and the devices we create to exceed them.

Margaret Bourke- White
Few careers with a camera have been narrated and celebrated as that of Bourke-White; for as legendary as her pictures were, so was the life and name she made for herself with them. Her success was a public fairy tale and a private labor: hard work, showmanship, and compromise intensified by historically high expectations – especially those she had for herself. There was always a story to tell, a client to satisfy, an editor to convince, a truth to capture. Her approach was a perfected high wire act that brought romance and discipline into balance to create widely circulated and appreciated images. She emphatically summoned content and form in compositions that had to please both those with agendas and those subject to them: sellers and buyers, publishers and readers, middle class American audiences and the bigger world they consumed from their sofas. With legendary fortitude and energy, Margaret Bourke-White nailed the assignments she was given with formal brilliance and incisive descriptive power.



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