Photos in Black and White: Margaret Bourke-White and the Dawn of Apartheid

MBW_1
  • 03/04/14 – 07/05/14
  • Venue: Michaelis Galleries, UCT Hiddingh Campus, 31 - 37 Orange Street, Gardens, Cape Town
  • Contact: 021 480 7170 or jm.higgins@uct.ac.za

Michaelis Galleries is proud to host Photos in Black and White: Margaret Bourke-White and the Dawn of Apartheid in South Africa. The exhibition offers a comprehensive look at Margaret Bourke-White’s rarely seen photojournalistic portrayal of South Africa in 1949 and 1950.

Michaelis Galleries is proud to host Photos in Black and White: Margaret Bourke-White and the Dawn of Apartheid in South Africa. The exhibition offers a comprehensive look at Margaret Bourke-White’s rarely seen photojournalistic portrayal of South Africa in 1949 and 1950. Hired by Henry Luce as the first photographer for Fortune magazine in 1929, Margaret Bourke-White became one of four staff photographers at Luce’s renowned illustrated news magazine, Life. With 24 million readers, Life represented the most widely circulated form of visual information in the world.

With a self-confessed “insatiable desire to be on the scene while history is being made”, Bourke-White documented moments of great social significance in the 20th Century. She documented both the economic crisis that beset rural America and the new social order under construction in Soviet Russia. She also famously covered the liberation of the concentration camps in Europe and documented the independence of India.

Whilst on assignment in South Africa for Life magazine, Bourke-White spent four months covering the early period of National Party rule, including the inauguration of the Voortrekker Monument, and the exploitive conditions of mineworkers and black life under apartheid. Published In September 1950, thephoto essay was published with16 uninterrupted pages containing 35 photographs — five in color, the rest in black and white – which exposed the inequities of Apartheid.

Of the 40 images on display in the exhibition, only 11 appeared in the magazine, the rest having been sourced by Lichtenstein from Bourke-White’s papers at Syracuse University.

40 years since Democracy, these rarely seen photographs depict the unfolding story of Apartheid in South Africa. As Margaret Bourke-White told her editors at Life, “It’s the most unbelievable system. It’s vicious, and it’s got to be exposed.”
MARGARET BOURKE-WHITE (14 JUNE 1904- 27 AUGUST 1971)

Margaret Bourke-White, born in New York City, became one of the pre-eminent documentary photographers of the twentieth century. She is best known as the first foreign photographer permitted to take pictures of Soviet Industry, the first female war correspondent (and the first female permitted to work in combat zones) and the first female photographer for Henry Luce’s Life magazine.