DOROTHEA LANGEE CHANGED DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
During the Great Depression, Dorothea Lange photographed the unemployed men wandering the streets. Her photographs of migrant workers were often featured with captions including their words. Lange's first exhibition, held in 1934, established her reputation as a skilled documentary photographer. In 1940 she received the Guggenheim Fellowship.
One of the preeminent pioneer documentary photographers of the 20th century, Lange was born Dorothea Nutzhorn on May 26, 1895, in Hoboken, New Jersey. Her father, Heinrich Nutzhorn, was a lawyer, and her mother, Johanna, focused on raising Dorothea and her brother, Martin.
When she was 7 years old, Lange contracted polio, which left her right leg and foot noticeably weakened. Later, this makes her feel grateful for the things that have happened in her life. "The illness was the most important thing that happened to me and shaped me, guided me, instructed me, helped me," she says. A few years later, just before she entered her teenage years, her parents divorced, and Dorothea blamed her father for the separation and eventually dropped his last name and took her mother's maiden name of Lange.
After high school she studied photography at Columbia University, and over the next few years worked for various photographers, including Arnold Genthe, a leading portrait photographer, and in 1917 studied under Clarence Hudson White at his prestigious school of photography. By 1918, Lange was living in San Francisco and running a successful portrait studio.
Dorothea's first real foray into documentary photography came in the 1920s when she traveled through the southwest with the artist Dixon (her first husband), photographing mostly Native Americans. As the Great Depression hit in the 1930s, she turned her camera to what she began to see in her own San Francisco neighborhoods: labor strikes and bread lines. In the early 1930s, Lange met Paul Taylor, a university professor and economist. Their attraction was immediate and by 1935 both had left their significant others to be together. Over the next five years, the couple traveled extensively, documenting the hardships of rural areas. Taylor writes reports and Lange photographs the people they meet. This work includes the influential photographer's most famous portrait, "Migrant Mother," an iconic image of the period that tenderly and beautifully captures the hardship and pain of what so many Americans experienced. In 1940, she became the first woman to be awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship.
While battling increasing health problems in the last two decades of her life, Lange remained active. She co-founded Aperture, a small publishing house that produces high-end photography periodicals and books. Took assignments for Life magazine, traveling through Utah, Ireland and Death Valley. She also accompanied her husband on his work assignments in Pakistan, Korea and Vietnam, among other places, documenting what she saw along the way.
On October 11, 1965, Dorothea Lange passed away from esophageal cancer at the age of 70 in San Francisco. At that time, she already had several grandchildren and great-grandchildren from her two children from her first marriage and her three stepchildren.
Three months later, the Museum of Modern Art in New York presents a retrospective exhibition of her works. This is the first solo exhibition of a female photographer. In February 2020, the same museum again presented Lange's photographs under the title "Dorothea Lange: Words and Pictures".
In 2003, Lange was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame. Three years later, an elementary school was named after her in Nipomo, California, near where she filmed "Migrant Mother." In 2008, she became part of the California Hall of Fame, located at the California Museum of History, Women and the Arts, with her son Daniel Dixon accepting the honors in her place. In October 2018, Lange's hometown of Hoboken, New Jersey honored her with a mural depicting her and two other prominent women in Hoboken history, Maria Pepe and Dorothy McNeil.
1. The photographer Dorothea Lange.
Photo: © Larry Colwell / Anthony Barboza / https://telegra.ph/Dorothea-Langee-03-29
2. Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California, 1936.
Photo: © Dorothea Lange / https://magazine.artland.com/stories-of-iconic-artworks-dorothea-Langees-migrant-mother/
3. Photo of a migrant from Oklahoma.
Photo: © Dorothea Lange / https://documentaryshooters.com/images-from-the-fsa-road/
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