Dorothea Lange and the problems of rural areas – #100GameChangers

Dorothea Lange is an American photographer born in New Jersey in 1895. She learned large-format portrait techniques at the Clarence White School in New York in 1917. She devoted herself specifically to social photography. In particular, she did a documentation project. It is about problems of depression in rural areas. His childhood was not at all easy. At the age of seven, she contracted polio, which left her with a permanent impairment of her right leg. At the age of 12, her father abandoned her and her family.

She married the painter Maynard Dixon in 1920. Yet, this marriage was unsuccessful, and they separated after nine years. She won the Guggenheim Prize in 1941 and later worked on Japanese prisoners held by the Americans. In 1947, she collaborated on the creation of the Magnum agency. She also worked as a Life photographer. She hung out with some founding photographers of the F/64 Group, but never formally joined the group. Not only that, but she is certainly a photographer who adhered to the philosophy of straight photography. This term identifies the photographic genre emerged in the first half of the 20th century. It was born in opposition to the current of pictorialism. It rejects any kind of manipulation of the image that is unrelated to linguistic specificity. Due to her poor health in the last years of her life, her work came to an abrupt halt. She died at the age of 70 from cancer of the oesophagus.

Camera is a tool which teaches people how to see without the device.

Dorothea Lange

The Great Depression hit in 1929, the economy continued to suffer in the early 1940s. Panic, bankruptcy, foreclosure, and redundancy swept the country. As unemployment spiralled out of control, things got worse, while droughts and dust storms ruined agriculture. Without water or food, America entered a state of emergency. Farm Security Administration (FSA) employed Lange to document the impact of economic hardship. Using her photographic skills to document the victims of hardship, Lange’s work would capture some of the era’s most important moments in time.
But, it’s not a painful image. Amidst all the suffering, pride and dignity stand out, a sense that somehow the woman and her family will make it, and have a better life. This photo has become a true icon of the 1900s, a symbol of the suffering and struggle for survival faced by ordinary people during the Great Depression.

Lange’s career was launched by the country’s emotional response to a Migrant Mother, she continued to practice portrait photography linked to socio-political themes. Dorothea Lange. In 1941, she was awarded a Guggenheim Scholarship, which she declined after being offered a position with the War Relocation Authority (WRA). Photographed Japanese-American civilians during World War II, encapsulating the suffering sustained by recognizable humanity.

Lange began working in the photography department of the California School of Fine Arts. And then she co-founded the Aperture magazine. Dorothea Lange not only embodies an entire era of American history, but a photographic discourse. In essence, she was a cultural commentator who used the camera to record but never to interfere with the political events of the day. Lange’s photographs remain iconic.

In an essay written with his son, Lange criticized contemporary photography as being in a fugue state. It had become more about illusion than reality. Against this tendency, she urged photographers to reconnect with the world.

Bad as it is, the world is potentially full of good photographs. But to be good, photographs have to be full of the world.

Dorothea Lagrange

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