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Daring to Look: Dorothea Lange's Photographs and Reports from the Field Paperback – September 1, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
In this thoughtful and meticulously researched account of Lange's career, Spirn focuses on the photographer's largely unpublished 1939 portfolio and champions it as a masterful mix of the visual and the verbal. Lange's stark photographs and accompanying field reports testify to her desire to show real Depression-era Americans—displaced and downtrodden, but carrying on nevertheless—as honestly as possible; they are published as a whole in the second section of Spirn's book. These photographs include Lange's much vaunted portraits—of sharecroppers hunched in tobacco fields and mothers with their hungry children—as well as some of her lesser known landscape photography. The reverential Spirn, a photographer herself, traces Lange's path, visiting her locations and subjects in a fascinating series of then and now shots, an homage to Lange, who Spirn compellingly argues deserves to take her place as one of the most important American artists of the Twentieth Century. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
And I just love the pictures. I don't find the people depressing. Somehow they carry a dignity, sometimes even a nobility, that gives them an iconic quality. They look, by and large, like just fine people, classic Americans—they couldn't be anything else. The landscapes are so evocative, too. This is not to say that the book doesn't document the hardships of the Depression—it does, in both a systemic and very personal way—but the characters transcend them with grit, resilience, and acceptance.”
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This book has an excellent selection of Lange's work from the depression and after. The author attempts to retrace several of Dorothea Lange's more well known or productive trips for the FSA. The on location shots taken by the author almost 60 years later gave me a perspective on the changes in our landscape. Her description of Lange's evolution from studio based portrait photographer catering to the well off, to on location recorder of the cataclysmic social events going on in the nation during the Depression gave me a new insight about the work Lange produced.
Overall, however, the real heart of this book is the selection of Dorothea Lange's photos and the accompanying caption notes by Lange, as well as the expanded background provided by the author.
The black and white prints are stark, dramatic and so effective at conveying the suffering as well as the incredible endurance of the people Lange photographed.