Final Art History Paper

Final Art History Paper - Margaret Bourke-White's...

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Margaret Bourke-White’s photograph, Nuremberg , captured in 1945 as she traveled with Allied Forces commanded by General George Patton depicts the German city in its war-torn, ravaged state. The first front-line female war journalist, Bourke-White maintained a unique perspective in her photography and viewpoints. The ability of these pictures to convey the reality of war to millions of viewers makes them powerful tools of communication and education. This panoramic, arial, photo depicts a view of the damages of war that few on the home front could envision. The photograph Nuremberg serves many social and historic documentary purposes. Socially, the photograph demonstrates the wonderful abilities of this maverick female photographer. Historically, the photograph documents the fall of Nuremberg, Germany (as well as Hitler and the Third Reich) taken by brute force by Allied Forces during World War. Nuremberg was of great symbolic importance to Hitler, who called it “the most German of German cities.” It was the birthplace of the Third Reich and the scene of the massive night rallies glorified in Nazi propaganda films. 1 The photograph, Nuremberg , shows its destruction. Interpreted in different contexts the photograph documents the subjugation of the Axis powers and the destructiveness that can be inflicted on warring parties. Certainly, it documents the degree of bombing which occurred at Nuremberg. The loss of property and implied loss of life the photograph represents is staggering. One has only to view the crumbling architecture to envision the inhabitants of the structures buried or injured by debris. The second largest air raid of World Ward II, Nuremberg was second only to the fire bombing of Dresden in its scope of destruction. In viewing the level of destruction in Nuremberg, it could be said that war has no winners - only victims. In her own analysis of her early photographic style, Bourke-White says, “ I feel that utter 1 The History of Flight .7 May 2008. < http://www.century-of-flight.net/Aviation history/WW2/bombing of Nuremberg.htm > 1
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truth is essential…"and to get that truth may take a lot of searching and long hours." 2 In battlefront conditions, long hours for staging photographs are not available. However, Bourke- White successfully transitioned from hours to minutes of capturing images while still conveying the essence and composition of the subject. Pictures such as Nuremberg were shot quickly under dangerous circumstances with the objective of delivering images to those at home and documenting history in the making. At the time of this photograph (during Patton’s conquering march over Germany), she muses that there was “No time to think about it or interpret it. Just rush to photograph it." 3 Her statement adds some validity to her pictures as “pure” representations of war conditions. Bourke-White was a trailblazer both socially and pictorially.
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Final Art History Paper - Margaret Bourke-White's...

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