The destitute, displaced, and those barely clinging on to the fringes of society — Dorothea Lange had seen all of these and more in the span of her decorated career. She had devoted her life and work to those who have experienced these things, close enough to capture their plight and reality. Her work is now being honored in a major exhibition in Paris.
The Politics of Seeing is a gallery exhibition organized by the Oakland Museum of California that features over 100 photos by Lange. It will run from October 16 until January 27, 2019 at the Jeu de Paume in Concorde, Paris. The exhibition is curated by Drew Heath Johnson, Oakland Museum of California, Alona Pardo and Jilke Golbach, Barbican Art Gallery, Pia Viewing, and Jeu de Paume. Lange’s powerful images are also given additional context with supporting documents and screenings. This display shows some images that have never before been exhibited in France.
The exhibit features five series from Lange’s expansive career namely from the Depression period, commissioned work for the Farm Security Administration, the Japanese American internment, Richmond shipyards, and a series on a Public defender. Lange’s masterful use of grain, texture, and contrast are in full display in this exhibit. Her delicate documentation of human emotion and condition became the centerpiece of her photographic work.
While they were artistic, there’s also an anthropological side to Lange’s images. She wasn’t only interested in highlighting grief and problems in society, Lange also immersed herself in the situations she photographed. Her personal touches to the images like the captions she wrote ad to the impact that her images posses. Lange’s social documentary work was instrumental to our current understanding of these phases in American society and history.
All information used in this article was sourced from Jeu de Paume.