Dorothea Lange: Words & Pictures
On the unique synthesis of word and image in Dorothea Lange's boldly political photography, which defined the iconography of WPA and Depression-era America
Toward the end of her life, Dorothea Lange reflected, "All photographs--not only those that are so-called 'documentary'... can be fortified by words." Though Lange's career is widely heralded, this connection between words and pictures has received scant attention. A committed social observer, Lange paid sharp attention to the human condition, conveying stories of everyday life through her photographs and the voices they drew in. Published in conjunction with the first major MoMA exhibition of Lange's in 50 years, Dorothea Lange: Words & Pictures brings fresh attention to iconic works from the collection together with lesser-known photographs--from early street photography to projects on the criminal justice system. The work's complex relationships to words show Lange's interest in art's power to deliver public awareness and to connect to intimate narratives in the world.Presenting Lange's work in its diverse contexts--photobooks, Depression-era government reports, newspapers, magazines, poems--along with the voices of contemporary artists, writers and thinkers, the book offers a nuanced understanding of Lange's career, and new means for considering words and pictures today. An introductory essay by curator Sarah Hermanson Meister is followed by sections organized according to "words" from a range of historical contexts: Lange's landmark photobook An American Exodus, Life and Aperture magazines, an illustrated guide to minimize racism in jury trials, and many more. These contexts are punctuated with original contributions from a distinguished group of contemporary writers, artists and critical thinkers, including Julie Ault, Kimberly Juanita Brown, River Encalada Bullock, Sam Contis, Jennifer Greenhill, Lauren Kroiz, Sally Mann, Sandra Phillips, Wendy Red Star, Christina Sharpe, Rebecca Solnit, Robert Slifkin and Tess Taylor. Dorothea Lange (1895-1965) operated a successful San Francisco portrait studio in the 1920s before going on to work with the Resettlement Administration (and later the Farm Security Administration) documenting the hardships of the Great Depression and Dust Bowl migration. During World War II, Lange worked for the US government photographing the Japanese American internment camps, and California's wartime economy. Lange's photographs were published widely during her lifetime. Lange worked closely with curator John Szarkowski on a retrospective that opened posthumously in 1966 at the Museum of Modern Art.--Charles Caesar "Galerie"
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One happy consequence of our dismal political moment is a rediscovery of Lange.--Arthur Lubow "New York Times"
[Lange's] legacy combines two fields -- art and journalism -- whose entirely separate constraints and ethics can still, at their best, change the world.--Alice Gregory "New York Times"
[Lang] saw clearly and concisely, without sentiment or polemics, but her pictures never feel detached or merely repertorial.--Vince Aletti "Photograph"
With or without the support of words, Dorothea Lange (1895-1965), created some of the greatest images of the unsung struggles and overlooked realities of American life.--Arthur Lubow "New York Times"
[Dorothea Lange: Words & Pictures] examines the way words -- including Lange's own, which Lange often presented in extended captions, and the words in Lange's photographs -- have guided our understanding of [her] work.--Tyler Green "Modern Art Notes Podcast"
A profoundly sensitive portrait photographer and one of the most influential documentarians of the early and mid-20th century.--Alexxa Gotthardt "Artsy"
A bracing tribute to an astonishing artist, a woman who survived childhood polio (though not unscathed) and hauled herself and her camera across the US in its most crushing years. [...] She understood how to tune her vision to human beauty.--Ariella Budick "Financial Times"
While Lange's images have always spoken to us, her subjects weren't always able to speak for themselves. Words were perhaps important to Lange because they weren't always implicit; rather, they were hard-earned.--Jadie Stillwell "Interview"
In this publication, the work of groundbreaking photographer Dorothea Lange work is presented in diverse contexts, ranging from photobooks, Depression-era government reports, newspapers, magazines, and poems, alongside writings by contemporary artists, writers and thinkers.--Eileen Kinsella "Artnet"
Bad as it is, the world is potentially full of good photographs. Dorthea Lange once said. But to be good the photographs have to be full of the world. Lange's images...invariably were.--Alice Gregory "Elle"
Dorothea Lange's boldly political photography defined the iconography of WPA and Depression-era America.--Charles Caesar "Galerie"