Dorothea Lange’s America

Exhibition Dates:  November 15, 2012 –  January 27, 2013
Docent Tours: Sundays at 2:00pm

Lange herself had known adversity early in life. At age 7  she was stricken with polio, which left her with a lifetime limp. And at age 12  her father disappeared from the scene, leaving an impoverished household  behind. Every day she would ride the ferry with her mother from Hoboken to lower Manhattan,  to a roiling working-class neighborhood teeming with immigrants. During that  period Lange talked her way into photo courses with a range of teachers as  diverse as Arnold Genthe and Clarence White. In 1918 she moved to San Francisco where she  befriended the photographers Ansel Adams and Imogen Cunningham, and, through  them, the celebrated Western painter Maynard Dixon, who became her first  husband. She soon opened a thriving portrait studio that catered to San Francisco’s  professional class and monied elite. But with the crash of 1929 she found her  true calling, as a peripatetic chronicler of the many faces of America, old  and young, urban and rural, native-born and immigrant, as they dealt with  unprecedented hardship, sometimes with resilience, often with despondence. Her  immortal portraits seared these faces of the Depression era into America’s  consciousness.  Also included in the exhibition, notable social  documentarians of the era, Walker Evans, Ben Shahn, Wright Morris,  Mike Disfarmer, and others.

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