Museum Home Past Exhibitions Photographers of Genius at the Getty

March 16–July 25, 2004 at the Getty Center

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Lange - She brought a social and political consciousness to portraiture.
Audio: Getty curators discuss this photograph.

I find that it has become instinctive, habitual, necessary to group photographs. I used to think in terms of single photographs, the bulls-eye technique. No more.
—Dorothea Lange

Born in New Jersey and educated in New York City, Lange became interested in photography as a teenager. An assistant in the New York studio of fashion photographer Arnold Genthe, she learned the trade secrets of upscale portrait photography before establishing her own studio in San Francisco in 1918. Her genius, however, was not in the repetition of formulas but in the harnessing of an instinct for unexpected pictures. She brought to portraiture a social and political consciousness and was a skillful observer of the way people relate to one another.

Best known for her work with the government's Farm Security Administration, Lange continued to photograph throughout her life. Her work always retained a political consciousness. This photograph was taken in a factory town, newly booming after the entry of the United States into World War II. Lange assigned to it the title Lovers, Richmond, California, which suggests that much lies below the surface. In a hardworking industrial community, this couple—possibly coworkers—leans against an expired parking meter, mirroring the time-bound condition of factory life.

View a brief biography and other works by this artist in the Getty online collections.

Related Bookstore item:
In Focus: Dorothea Lange
Lovers, Richmond, California / Lange