Dorothea Lange: Grab a Hunk of Lightning

Elizabeth Partridge. Chronicle, $50 (192p) ISBN 978-1-4521-2216-8
Published in tandem with an episode of the PBS American Masters series, this handsome monograph is the only career-spanning collection of Lange’s work currently in print. Accompanied by an informative biographical essay by the pioneering photojournalist’s goddaughter, this book reminds us why Lange’s unvarnished images of the working poor and other marginalized communities have distinguished her as one of the most important chroniclers of American life in the early 20th century. Lange (1895–1965), the first female photographer to put on solo show at the Museum of Modern Art, photographed what she called the “walking wounded”—people affected by the great crises of the Depression, the Dustbowl, and the interment camps of WWII. As evidenced by her most famous image, “Migrant Mother” (1936), Lange brilliantly captured the beauty and humanity behind the statistics, whether she was shooting the ex-slaves of Alabama, the field workers of Mississippi, Georgia, and California, the homes, businesses, and makeshift shelters of blighted communities, or the Irish, Korean, and Egyptian citizens she encountered while traveling the globe late in her career. Although this book provides just a sample of Lange’s vast and varied oeuvre, it’s a valuable introduction to the trove of human experience documented by Lange’s sensitive eye. More than 100 photos. Agent Steven Malk, Writers’ House. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 10/28/2013
Release date: 11/01/2013
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