Dorothea Lange

1895 - 1965 · United States

Artist biography

Dorothea Lange is known as one of the most influential documentary photographers, that worked during the Depression Era. In her artworks, she masterfully captured the poor living conditions of those, most affected by poverty: migrant workers, homeless and unemployed.

Lange was born on May 26, 1898 in Hoboken, New Yersey. She contracted polio at the age of seven, which left her with a permanent limp. She claimed that the disability has shaped her personality and the outlook of the world. She studied photography at Columbia University in New York, and afterwards moved to San Francisco, where she started up a portrait business.

Lange mostly created images with the Graflex Series D camera. Through her photographs, Lange’s aim was to raise the topic of existing social issues, and to bring the change. Her photography is considered to be a perfectly accurate portrayal of America’s social and political devastation at a time.

Dorothea Lange is widely known for capturing one of the most defining images of the 20th century-photograph “Migrant Mother” (1936). The image portrayed the family of farm worker Florence Owens, and became the symbol of Depression Era’s plight. Among other Lange’s most notable works are the photographs are “The White Angel Breadline” (1933), “Ditched, Stalled and Stranded, San Joaquin Valley, California” (1936), “Photopgraph of Members of Mochida Family Awaiting Evacuation” (1942). Lange passed away of esophageal cancer in 1956. In one of her last interviews, Lange defined the meaning of photograph as “an act of love. That’s the deepest meaning behind it. The audience, the recipient of it gives it back”. Her photographs are currently showcased in Museum of Modern Art, New York. In 2003, Lange was posthumously inducted into National Women’s Hall of Fame, and the California Hall of Fame in 2008.

Dorothea Lange

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