Fort Peck Dam, Montana

Artist: Margaret Bourke-White (American, Bronx, New York 1904–1971 Darien, Connecticut)

Date: 1936

Medium: Gelatin silver print

Dimensions: 33.1 x 26.6 cm (13 x 10 1/2 in.)

Classification: Photographs

Credit Line: Ford Motor Company Collection, Gift of Ford Motor Company and John C. Waddell, 1987

Accession Number: 1987.1100.25


When Life magazine printed Bourke-White’s photograph on the cover of its first issue (November 23, 1936), it solidified Fort Peck Dam’s status as an icon of the machine age. Looking up at giant concrete buttresses and what appear to be crenellated battlements (actually supports for an elevated highway), with small figures on the spillway providing the necessary indication of scale, Bourke-White creates a vivid illustration of the power of technology to dwarf humankind. This robust work presents new, modern monuments as equally impressive as the towering walls of ancient cities.