Dorothea Lange: Photographer of the people

The contemplation of things as they are without error or confusion without substitution of imposture, is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest invention.

By GIL STERN STERN GOLDFINE
April 6, 2006 14:23
1 minute read.
Dorothea Lange: Photographer of the people

dorothea lange 88. (photo credit: )

 
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This quote by the English philosopher Francis Bacon was tacked up by Dorothea Lange on her studio wall as a perpetual reminder of what she, and her photographs, were all about. Born in Hoboken, New Jersey, in 1895, Lange has been called the greatest American documentary photographer, best known for her chronicles from 1935 to 1943 of transient families who fell victim to the Great Depression. Many had fled the Dust Bowl during the lengthy drought that devastated millions of acres of farmland in Oklahoma and other southwestern states. More than 150 prints by Lange, on loan from the Galerie Bilderwelt in Berlin, are currently on view at the Open Museum of Photography at the Tel Hai Industrial Park. As a member of the Farm Security Administration (FSA), Lange applied her creative imagination, her commitment to excellence and her skill as a photographer to record social and cultural events in America. Lange photographed the forgotten men, women and children of the 1930s: migrant workers, sharecroppers and tenant farmers as they worked the cotton fields and farms in the midwest and California. In an unflinchingly direct manner, the photographer documented the bitter poverty of these families and showed not only their hopelessness and despair, but also the pride and dignity with which people endured their circumstances. "Migrant Mother" (1936) is one of the classic photographs of the period, considered by many to be the most important social realist image of the Depression in America. It portrays a migrant worker with her three children. The face of the 32-year-old woman is marked by wrinkles, the gaze full of worry directed into the distance. Her two older children, seeking protection, lean against her shoulders hiding their faces from the camera, while her small baby has fallen asleep on her lap. This highly concentrated, tightly composed image has made Dorothea Lange an icon of socially committed photography. Lange died of cancer in Marin County, California, in 1965, just before the opening of a major retrospective exhibition of her work at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Open Museum of Photography, Tel Hai Industrial Park Open daily - 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday and holidays - 10 a.m. to 5 p. Closed holiday eves. Information: (04) 695-0769, www.open-museums.co.il

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