Fort Peck Dam by Margaret Bourke-White (1936)

The photograph “Fort Peck Dam,” captured by artist Margaret Bourke-White in 1936, is a striking black and white image portraying the monumental scale and industrial might of the Fort Peck Dam. The composition showcases the immense concrete buttresses that form the dam’s structure, emphasizing their towering size and the feat of engineering involved in their construction. The play of light and shadow adds depth and contrast to the image, illustrating Bourke-White’s skill in capturing the interplay between natural and artificial elements. The photograph’s perspective conveys a sense of grandeur and modernity that was often associated with New Deal projects of the era.

The image reveals a close-up of the dam’s solid, sculptural concrete forms, rising vertically and characterized by curved tops. There are no people or moving objects that can clearly be seen, allowing the structure itself to be the central focus. The concrete surfaces are detailed with textures and patterns, possibly from the framework used during their pouring. The cloud-dappled sky provides a dramatic backdrop, further emphasizing the imposing nature of the dam. This iconic image, often associated with the American industrial landscape, captures a moment in time where engineering prowess and the shaping of the natural environment were in the spotlight.

Other Photographs from Margaret Bourke-White

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