Dorothea Lange  (American, 1895-1965) 

Dorothea Lange (American, May 26, 1895–October 11, 1965) was a documentary photographer best known for her work capturing images from Depression-era America for the Farm Security Administration (FSA). Lange was born in Hoboken, NJ, to second-generation German immigrants. Lange cited two events from her childhood as shaping both her worldview and career: her abandonment by her father at the age of 12 and her contraction of polio, which caused her to walk with a limp for the remainder of her life.

Lange received formal training in photography at Columbia University under the tutelage of famed photographer Clarence H. White (American, 1871–1925). She then moved to San Francisco in 1918 to open a photography studio. She married painter Maynard Dixon (American, 1875–1946) and had two children by 1929. In the early 1930s, Lange began to spend more time photographing unemployed and homeless people who were decimated by the Great Depression. This work attracted the attention of the Resettlement Administration, which later became the FSA. Lange's second husband, Paul Schuster Taylor, whom she married in December 1935 after divorcing Dixon, joined her in documenting rural poverty and the exploitation of farm workers. This work cast a spotlight on the plight of these downtrodden people and served as a touchstone for change in the country. Lange's photo, Migrant Mother, composed in 1936, is considered to be one of the preeminent works of the period. After being awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1941, Lange shifted emphasis to the forced evacuation of Japanese Americans to relocation camps. Similar to her work during the Depression, these photographs captured the essence of an unstable period in American history; these pieces remain on display in the Bancroft Library at the University of California at Berkeley.

While serving on the faculty of the Fine Art photography department at the California School of Fine Arts, Lange's health began to deteriorate. She suffered from ulcers and post-polio syndrome, which left her ill for the remainder of her life. Lange died in San Francisco in 1965.

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Dorothea Lange, Spring Plowing, Guadalupe, California


Dorothea Lange
Spring Plowing, Guadalupe, California

Michael Shapiro Photographs
Dorothea Lange, Migrant Cotton Picker, Eloy, Arizona, 1940


Dorothea Lange
Migrant Cotton Picker, Eloy, Arizona, 1940
Bruce Silverstein
Dorothea Lange, The Road West, New Mexico, 1938


Dorothea Lange
The Road West, New Mexico, 1938
Bruce Silverstein
Dorothea Lange, Black Maria, Oakland


Dorothea Lange
Black Maria, Oakland

Steven Kasher Gallery
Dorothea Lange, Funeral Cortege, End of an Era in a Small Valley Town


Dorothea Lange
Funeral Cortege, End of an Era in a Small Valley Town

Steven Kasher Gallery
Dorothea Lange, Irish farmer carting hay


Dorothea Lange
Irish farmer carting hay

Howard Greenberg Gallery
Dorothea Lange, Country scene of Irish farm


Dorothea Lange
Country scene of Irish farm

Howard Greenberg Gallery
Dorothea Lange, Untitled woman shopkeeper


Dorothea Lange
Untitled woman shopkeeper
circa 1950

Howard Greenberg Gallery
Dorothea Lange, New York City


Dorothea Lange
New York City

Past auction results (536)  View All
Dorothea Lange, Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California


Dorothea Lange
Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California, 1936


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Dorothea Lange, White Angel Breadline


Dorothea Lange
White Angel Breadline, 1933
gelatin silver print


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Dorothea Lange, Torso, San Francisco


Dorothea Lange
Torso, San Francisco, 1923
gelatin silver print


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1895   Born in Hoboken, NJ
1914 - 1917   Attended the New York Training School for Teachers
1919   Moved to San Francisco and established her own studio
1920 - 1930   Worked as a portrait photographer, usually for San Francisco's upper class
1932   Began shooting San Francisco's urban unemployed and labor unrest
1935   Became a staff photographer at the Federal Resettlement Administration (RA), later renamed the Farm Security Administration (FSA)
1940   Was hired by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics as the photographer for a series of community studies in California and Arizona
1940 - 1945   During WWII, photographed the internment of Japanese Americans for the War Relocation Authority, and the Kaiser shipyards in Richmond, California, for the Office of War Information
1952   Co-founded the photographic magazine Aperture
1965   Died in San Francisco, CA
2002 - 2003   About Life: The Photographs of Dorothea Lange, J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, CA (solo)
1966   Dorothea Lange, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY (solo)
1962   The Bitter Years, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
1955   Family of Man, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY