Margaret Bourke-White would've turned 107 yesterday (born June 14, 1904). I always thought that the early 20th century and the history of photography was very significant, because some of the best photojournalists and documentary photographers were women. Dorothea Lange from the same era was likely the next most influential documentary photographer of the early 20th century.
Margaret Bourke-White was a powerhouse photographer who helped get Life Magazine started; her photographs were on many of their covers and she did in-depth photo stories all over the world for decades.
I always thought that this photograph captured the hope of what the 20th century had to offer humanity. Gleaming new machines that can fly us from one end of the world to the other. The plane is highly reflective and almost has a mirror finish, but you can't tell that from this low resolution photo. It has power, elegance and the promise of an expanded horizon. It feels like civilization is going to be very cool indeed. It's juxtaposed with Manhattan in the background, another symbol of the best that humanity may have to offer. It was a time of hopefulness and the idea that modern times were going to make the world a better place.
In my opinion, this is one of the most underrated photographs of the 20th century because it symbolizes the dreams of what the modern world may have to offer. I'd love to have one of these prints on my wall and if anyone wants to trade for one, give me a call.
The Quirky Star Wars Connection
When George Lucas was in the process of making the new generation of Star Wars films, he was searching for a look that would define a futuristic city (planet) called Coruscant. It was covered in skyscrapers and it's traffic consisted of all manner of cool space vehicles, and served as the home for the Jedi order in the center of the galaxy. Coruscant seemed to epitomize the ideals that the Star Wars stories were all about.
I wouldn't be one bit surprised if George Lucas has this DC-4 photo tacked on one of his walls somewhere.
I think that the bottom line here is that Margaret Bourke-White was a photographer who characterized her times in a very special and unique manner. Her autobiography "Portrait of Myself" is a great read for anyone interested in learning more not only about a great photographer, but also someone who helped shape the perception how an era was defined.
Story by Larry McNeil, Copyright 2011, All Rights Reserved.