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The Twining of Art and Photojournalism

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  1. At the time she snapped Hohenzollern Bridge, Margaret Bourke-White was already one of the top photographers of her day.
  2. Hohenzollern Bridge does indeed serve as a telling document of the wreckage.
  3. Today both Royal Air Force and American bombers attacked the Hohenzollern bridge at Cologne.
  4. Bourke-White's eye for the aesthetic emerges in the photograph primarily through the geometries of the composition.
  5. As I drove in to the city from Deutz today, it felt like it always did.
  6. As a war photograph, Hohenzollern Bridge is best contextualized by the intersections of Bourke-White's entire body of work.

By the decisive spring of 1945, Allied Forces had entered Germany and were pushing towards the Rhine River. A series of bombing campaigns destroyed a number of major cities, crippling German industry and leading to the defeat of the Third Reich. Among the war correspondents who chronicled the destruction of German industry was Margaret Bourke-White, a photojournalist on assignment for Life magazine. Among the hundreds of photographs she snapped during her time as a war correspondent is an image of the wrecked Hoherzollen Bridge in Cologne, Germany. It is not a well-known photograph ? her images of ruined German cities would soon be eclipsed by her chronicling of concentration camp horrors ? but it reflects her function as a war correspondent charged with informing the public. Simultaneously, however, the photo reflects her keen sense of artistry honed by years of pioneering industrial photography and glorifying the machine age. The photograph thus echoes two warring impulses.

[...] ?Dear Fatherland, Rest Quietly?: A Report on the Collapse of Hitler's ?Thousand Years.? New York: Simon and Schuster Bourneuf, Anne Peterson. The Angel of Photography. Harvard Thesis Brown, Theodore. Margaret Bourke-White, photojournalist. Ithaca, NY: Andrew Dickson White Museum of Art, Cornell University Denny, Harold. ?Luftwaffe Tries to Halt 1st Army: Germans Scrape Up Everything Available for Night and Day Attack on Forward Units LITTLE DAMAGE REPORTED Allied Bombs Hit Hohenzollern Bridge, Last Railways Span Over Rhine from Cologne.? The New York Times 03 March 1945: 2. [...]


[...] With a belief in the sacred value of fact, no matter how distressing, and operating on the assumption that fact and beauty are supportive partners, she joins a long line of artists Constable, Thoureau, Van Gaogh, Whitman, Eakins, Matthew Brady, Pael Strand, Alfred Stieglitz who also wove the two into the fabric of their art.[18] Hohenzollern Bridge, taken in a moment that later became insignificant when measured against the rest of Bourke-White's work, is a testament to her ability to weave together both art and photojournalism, fact and beauty. [...]


[...] I've seen many big cities since the end of the war and I've heard comparisons from objective foreigners: no big city was hit as hard as Cologne.[12] (Translation by Julia Lindpainter) This approach to the devastation contrasts sharply with Bourke-White's understanding of her photograph. As previously discussed, she is recorder rather than admonisher, lacking the ideological drive and purpose of Sander. But for how much does intention count? Bourneuf enters into a discussion of theorist Walter Benjamin's understanding of the camera. [...]

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