Sunday, May 3, 2009

iconic photographs- dorothea lange

The pagent is vast, and I clutch at tiny details, inadequate
Dorothea Lange

I am currently reading Anne Whiston Spirn's book about Dorothea Lange. (Anne Whiston Spirn 2008 Daring to Look: Dorothea Lang's Photographs and Reports from the Field). The photo shown is part of a series of photographs titled Migrant Mother and was taken by Lange in 1936 in California. I find it one of the more haunting and evocative photographs I have seen.
Here is some background about the photo taken from the website of the US Library of Congress
The photograph that has become known as "Migrant Mother" is one of a series of photographs that Dorothea Lange made of Florence Owens Thompson and her children in February or March of 1936 in Nipomo, California. Lange was concluding a month's trip photographing migratory farm labor around the state for what was then the Resettlement Administration. In 1960, Lange gave this account of the experience:

I saw and approached the hungry and desperate mother, as if drawn by a magnet. I do not remember how I explained my presence or my camera to her, but I do remember she asked me no questions. I made five exposures, working closer and closer from the same direction. I did not ask her name or her history. She told me her age, that she was thirty-two. She said that they had been living on frozen vegetables from the surrounding fields, and birds that the children killed. She had just sold the tires from her car to buy food. There she sat in that lean- to tent with her children huddled around her, and seemed to know that my pictures might help her, and so she helped me. There was a sort of equality about it. (From: Popular Photography, Feb. 1960).
Lange is regarded as one of the greatest photographic witnesses and her photos taken during the worst years of the 1930's Depression show the human costs of poverty and unemployment that resulted.

Lange's photographs show a time of extreme dislocation, a time when millions of American families were made poorer as a result of corporate and market collapse. Sound familiar!!! Her photos take on a particular resonance today as more and more tent cities arise in the US to provide for the "economic homeless" caused by the corporate induced recession.Iconic photographs worth checking out.(see the book Dorothea Lange Photographs of a Lifetime) and this website

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