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Artists Dorothea Lange
Dorothea Lange Photo

Dorothea Lange

American Photographer

Movements and Styles: Modern Photography, Straight Photography, Documentary Photography

Born: May 26, 1895 - Hoboken, New Jersey

Died: October 11, 1965 - San Francisco, California

Dorothea Lange Timeline

Quotes

"It is not enough to photograph the obviously picturesque."
Dorothea Lange
"The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera."
Dorothea Lange
"I believe in living with the camera, and not using the camera."
Dorothea Lange
"Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still."
Dorothea Lange
"I feel myself more like a cipher, a person that can be used for lots of things and I like that. But I don't feel that I personally stand for anything so great, you know. That is the way in which I kind of slid into this. You asked me about deciding to be a photographer, but over everything, I think, all my decisions right along, even working in the field when I was doing documentary work, have been instinctive; and I trust my instincts. I don't distrust them. They haven't led me astray. It's when I've made up my mind to be efficient that is when I have gone wrong."
Dorothea Lange

"Bring the viewer to your side, include him in your thought. He is not a bystander. You have the power to increase his perceptions and conceptions."

Synopsis

Dorothea Lange's images of Depression-era America made her one of the most acclaimed documentary photographers of the 20th century. She is remembered above all for revealing the plight of sharecroppers, displaced farmers and migrant workers in the 1930s, and her portrait of Florence Owens Thompson, Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California(1936), has become an icon of the period. Since much of this work was carried out for a government body, the Farm Security Administration, it has been an unusual test case of American art being commissioned explicitly to drive government policy. After the Depression she went on to enjoy an illustrious career in photo-journalism during its hey-day, working for leading magazines such as Fortune and Life, and traveling widely throughout Asia, Latin America, and Egypt. She was instrumental in assembling the "Family of Man" exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1959, a renowned celebration of struggling post-war humanity.

Key Ideas

Many of Lange's documentary photographs borrow techniques from the lexicon of modernism - dramatic angles and dynamic compositions - to produce startling and often jarring images of her subjects. They never overpower the subjects themselves, but instead subtly direct the viewer to a fresh appreciation of the individual's plight.
Lange's mature work proved that works of art and documents are not mutually exclusive, and that they can combine to produce beautiful, moving, and campaigning images. Her use of innovative techniques also proved that modernist art need not only convey the private feelings of the artist, but could also be put in the services of popular journalism.
Lange's work, not only in the Depression but also in the post-war years, is characteristic of a lost age when a broad swath of the mass media was profoundly concerned with social issues. She saw herself firstly as a journalist and secondly as an artist, and she worked with a burning desire to effect social change by informing the public of suffering far away.

Biography

Dorothea Lange Photo

Childhood

Dorothea Lange grew up in a middle-class family in New Jersey. Her father, Heinrich Nutzhorn, worked as a lawyer, but also held several respected positions in local businesses, politics and the church, while her mother Johanna managed the household. Both parents were proponents of education and culture, and exposed both Dorothea and her brother Martin to literature and the creative arts.

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Dorothea Lange Biography Continues

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Dorothea Lange
Interactive chart with Dorothea Lange's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
View Influences Chart

Artists

Horace BristolHorace Bristol
Maynard DixonMaynard Dixon
Lewis HineLewis Hine
Paul StrandPaul Strand
Clarence WhiteClarence White

Personal Contacts

Imogen CunninghamImogen Cunningham
Roy StrykerRoy Stryker

Movements

Modern PhotographyModern Photography

Influences on Artist
Dorothea Lange
Dorothea Lange
Years Worked: 1930-1964
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Ansel AdamsAnsel Adams
Horace BristolHorace Bristol
Catherine OpieCatherine Opie

Personal Contacts

Pare LorentzPare Lorentz
John SteinbeckJohn Steinbeck
Roy StrykerRoy Stryker

Movements

Documentary PhotographyDocumentary Photography
PhotojournalismPhotojournalism

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Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

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