SIGNED BY MARGARET BOURKE-WHITE: SPLENDID LIMITED FOLIO EDITION OF 24 PRINTS OF HER PHOTOGRAPHS OF THE SOVIET UNION, "BRIEF GLIMPSES INTO A VAST LAND OF TREMENDOUS AND RAPID CHANGE"
BOURKE-WHITE, Margaret. Photographs of U.S.S.R. New York: Argus Press for Ralph L. Boudreau, 1934. Elephant folio (14-1/2 by 20 inches), original half cloth portfolio, cloth ties; 24 folio photogravures loose as issued, each recently matted. $13,500.
Limited first edition of this collection of 24 folio photogravure prints of Bourke-White's photographs taken in the Soviet Union, number 11 of 1000 copies produced at the Argus Press, this copy signed by her.
Margaret Bourke-White's first photobook, Eyes on Russia, grew out of her first trip to the Soviet Union, a trip commissioned by Fortune magazine. At the time, this was "the most extensive photographic account published to that point on the Soviet Union. With that, Bourke-White's reputation escalated rapidly; in 1932, Alfred Stieglitz declared her to be 'one of the world's great artists'" (ANB). She made two more trips, in 1931 and 1932, and the large format photogravures in this portfolio are from those two trips. "In the summer of 1931, the Soviet government invited Margaret back… Although she photographed at length this time in Magnitogorsk, a giant industrial complex rising on the site of the richest iron ore in the world, Margaret no longer concentrated exclusively on industry. Increasingly she photographed both the men behind the machines and the little people on the side: three peasant women eating from the same bowl ["Borscht," included in this portfolio] or schoolchildren paying grave attention to her camera ["Village School," included in this portfolio]… In the summer of 1932, Margaret went to Russia yet again… She went on to Tiflis to photograph Stalin's mother ["Stalin's Mother," included in this portfolio], who, she said, 'had never quite understood what her son's job was'… Margaret believed her Russian photographs were the most important work she had done, a belief that had to rest on their stronger claim on history" (Goldberg, Margaret Bourke-White, 131-34). The prints have been matted on heavier cardstock and no longer fit in the original portfolio, which is present. Twenty-two of the original 24 paper folders that contained the prints have been retained as well. In the same year Argus Press also issued a smaller collection of 12 of these 24 prints under the title Twelve Soviet Photo-Prints.
Portfolio with a bit of damp affecting upper cloth flap only; minor soiling to front board, near-fine. Plates clean and fine. Scarce and desirable complete.