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Dorothea Lange’s America

This summer, Barbican Art Gallery is staging the first UK survey of the American documentary photographer Dorothea Lange (1895–1965), one of the most influential photographers of the 20th century. The gallery describes Lange as “a formidable woman of unparalleled vigor and resilience.” The exhibition, called Dorothea Lange: Politics of Seeing, charts Lange’s photographic vision from her early studio portraits of San Francisco’s bourgeoisie to her celebrated Farm Security Administration work (1935–1939) that captured the devastating impact of the Great Depression on the American population.

The show features the iconic Migrant Mother as well as rarely seen photographs of the internment of Japanese-Americans during the Second World War and several post-war series documenting the changing face of the social and physical landscape of 1950s America, including a collaboration with fellow photographer Pirkle Jones. Working in urban and rural areas across America, Lange “focused her lens on human suffering and hardship to create compassionate and piercing portraits of people and places in the hope of effecting or influencing social and political reform.”

Jane Alison, Head of Visual Arts, Barbican, said: “The issues raised through [Dorothea’s] work have powerful resonance with issues we’re facing in society today.”

Dorothea Lange: Politics of Seeing is part of the Barbican’s 2018 season, The Art of Change, which explores how the arts respond to, reflect and potentially effect change in the social and political landscape. The exhibition encompasses over 300 objects from vintage prints and original book publications to ephemera, filed notes, letters and documentary film.

Dorothea Lange: Politics of Seeing
Barbican Art Gallery
Through September 2, 2018

Related Articles
From Rags to Riches–A History of Depression-Era Photography
Dorothea Lange’s Politics of Seeing
How To Win a 10K Dorothea Lange-Paul Taylor Prize (for PDN subscribers; login required)

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