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Dorothea Lange  

b. 1895 Hoboken, New Jersey, d. 1965 San Francisco, California

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"One should really use the camera as though tomorrow you'd be stricken blind. To live a visual life is an enormous undertaking, practically unattainable. I have only touched it, just touched it."
--Dorothea Lange

Thus wrote photographer Dorothea Lange of her extraordinary life and career. She worked for Arnold Genthe in his portrait studio in New York and studied photography with Clarence White at Columbia University. In 1918 she began to travel around the world to make her living as a photographer. She found herself stranded in San Francisco, so she opened a photographic studio there. Paul Taylor, who would become her second husband, hired her to document migratory workers in California.

In 1935 she began to work for the Resettlement Administration (later the Farm Security Administration). During this period, she made her most famous image, Human Erosion in California (Migrant Mother), of Native American Florence Owens Thompson and her children in a pea-pickers' camp. Other less famous subjects included Japanese internment camps and scenes of workers in factories during World War II. Lange became the first woman awarded a Guggenheim fellowship, and she spent nearly ten years making photo essays for Life and other magazines. She also traveled extensively, making photo essays in Vietnam, Ireland, Pakistan, India, and elsewhere.

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In Focus: Dorothea Lange

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1-5 of 14

Hopi Man / Lange
Hopi Man

American, 1926

General Strike / Lange
General Strike

American, 1934; 1965

Labor, Melon Fields / Lange
Labor, Melon Fields

American, 1935-1950

Human Erosion / Lange
Human Erosion

American, 1936

J.R. Butler / Lange
J.R. Butler

American, 1938-1950