Margaret Bourke-White

American (New York City, New York, 1904 - 1971, Darien, Connecticut)

Chrysler Building: Tower

photograph | gelatin silver print
Not on view at this time; find out where you can see works from our collection at locations around the Bay Area while our building is closed for expansion
  • Chrysler Building: Tower

    Margaret Bourke-White, Chrysler Building: Tower, 1930; gelatin silver print, 5 7/16 in. x 3 13/16 in. (13.81 cm x 9.68 cm); Collection of the Sack Photographic Trust; © Estate of Margaret Bourke-White; photo: Don Ross

In the 1930s and 1940s Bourke-White was one of the most famous and highly paid photographers in the United States. Her work for Fortune magazine and, later, Life, was seen by millions of Americans on a weekly basis. She is best known for sleek and idealized photographs of machine-age industry and architectural icons of the period, such as the Fort Peck Dam.

This photograph and an attached card were used as an announcement for the 1930 opening of Bourke-White's new studio in the Chrysler Building, another building emblematic of that era. She captured the gleaming top of the Art Deco structure from below and at a sharp angle, isolating it from the fabric of the city and emphasizing its design. Such a treatment emulated the style of Russian constructivist photography, which was just beginning to influence American commercial work at the time.

5 7/16 in. x 3 13/16 in. (13.81 cm x 9.68 cm)
Collection of the Sack Photographic Trust
© Estate of Margaret Bourke-White


New York, landmarks, skyscrapers, architectural details, buildings, art deco, spires

From June 3, 2013, through early 2016, SFMOMA's building on Third Street in San Francisco will be temporarily closed for expansion construction. Selected artworks in our collection are included in a range of off-site exhibitions during this period. We regret that the remainder of the collection will not be available for study during this time.

In the meantime, we invite you to explore a wide selection of our collection online. Please note that the information presented online is subject to revision. Please contact us at to verify artwork details.

This resource is for educational use and its contents may not be reproduced without permission. Please review our Terms of Use for more information.