Partnerships Life Magazine and the Power of Photography

Exhibition sponsor

Flame Burner Ann Zarik
Margaret Bourke-White (American, 1904—1971)
Flame Burner Ann Zarik, 1943, printed about 2000
Gelatin silver print
Princeton University Art Museum. Photo by Margaret Bourke-White. © LIFE Picture Collection.
© 2022 Estate of Margaret Bourke-White/Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Bank of America is honored to sponsor Life Magazine and the Power of Photography, on view at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston through January 16, 2023.

This exhibition offers an in-depth look at the creative and editorial processes behind Life magazine, one of the most popular and iconic illustrated magazines ever produced. Founder Henry Luce promised advertisers of his flagship magazine TIME that his new publication would reveal “aspects of life and work which have never before been seen by the camera’s miraculous second sight.” At the magazine’s height, Life’s photo essays, published weekly from 1936 to 1972, reached as much as 25 percent of the United States population.

More than 180 objects, including internal memos, assignment outlines, shooting scripts, contact sheets, caption files, layout experiments and original working press prints used in the magazine’s production, allow visitors to trace the backstory and collaborative construction of many of the magazine’s most notable photo essays. Combined, they reveal how Life shaped national conversations about class, war, race, technology, national identity and more – from the Great Depression, World War II and the civil rights movement to the Vietnam War and the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Among the wide range of staff and freelance photographers represented are Margaret Bourke-White, Larry Burrows, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Frank Dandridge, Alfred Eisenstaedt, Fritz Goro, Yousuf Karsh, Gordon Parks and W. Eugene Smith.

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston is a partner in Bank of America’s Museums on Us® program, which provides our cardholders with one free general admission on the first full weekend of every month. For more information about the program, including our roster of more than 225 cultural partners across the U.S., please visit Museums on Us®.

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