Art News
Underrated Overrated
Which artists have been overlooked? And which have we been looking at too much?
January 2005
By Hilarie M. Sheets

Mary Ellen Mark

Photographer, New York

There are many great documentary photographers who are not considered part of the art world. In fact, "photojournalism" is considered a negative term in the art world. This is not a new trend in photography. Margaret Bourke-White is one of the photographers who are extremely underrated in the field of fine art photography. She is considered a great photojournalist and documentarian, but in the world of art she has never been given as high esteem as other photographers of her generation, like Dorothea Lange and Walker Evans, who have both been rightly recognized as great artists. Because Bourke-White was a staff photographer for Life magazine, she was labeled a photojournalist. She is one of the great photographers of all time with an enormous range. She made beautiful industrial pictures, landscapes, cityscapes, and portraits, as well as some of the most powerful and important social documentary images in history.