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Dorothea Lange and the essence of human dignity


Dorothea Lange (1895, Hoboken, Nueva Jersey–1966, San Francisco, California) was one of the most important and influential photographers of the 20th century. A pioneering social documentarian, as she was a prominent advocate of the power of photography to effect change, using her camera as a political tool to expose what she saw as society's injustices and inequalities.

The Jeu de Paume Paris featured from 16 October 2018 to 27 January 2019 a careful selection of works by this world famous photographer at “The Politics of Seeing”. Over one hundred splendid vintage prints taken between 1933 and 1957 divided in five series: the Great Depression period (1933-1934), works from the Farm Security Administration (1935-1939), the Japanese American internment (1942), the Richmond shipyards (1942-1944) and a series on a Public defender (1955-1957). The exhibition, that focused on the extraordinary emotional power of Lange’s work and on the context of her documentary practice, included some of her major images, such as White Angel Breadline (1933) and Migrant Mother (1936), which are icons of photographic history.

Dorothea Lange’s images of the Great Depression are wellknown, but her photographs of Japanese Americans interned during the Second World War were only published in 2006. Shown here for the first time in France, they illustrate perfectly how this great photographer created intimate and poignant images throughout her career in order to denounce injustices and change public opinion. In addition to the prints, a selection of personal items, including field notes and publications, allowed the public to situate her work within the context of this troubled period.

The exhibition offered a new perspective on the career of this renowned American artist, whose legacy continues to be felt today. Highlighting the artistic qualities and the strength of the photographer’s political convictions, it encouraged the public to rediscover the importance of Dorothea Lange’s work as a landmark in the history of documentary photography.


1, Place de la Concorde
75008 Paris. France

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