Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Dorothea Lange event at the library

The San Francisco Public Library put on a program about the photographer Dorothea Lange tonight in the auditorium at the Main.

They showed a film, Dorothea Lange: A Visual Life, which displayed many of Lange's photographs, accompanied by her voice (mostly from interviews that had been conducted earlier by KQED) discussing her work and her life, along with interviews with her sons and her assistants.

Lange had started as a society portrait photographer who felt she wanted to do more. Her chance came when she was asked to document the life of field workers during the Depression in what became her most famous work. She went on to photograph the Japanese-American internment camps during the war, people in Utah and Ireland for Life Magazine, and later people around the world and, in a situation that provided different kinds of challenges, her own family.

After the film, the filmmaker, Meg Partridge, came out, along with her sister, Elizabeth Partridge, who has written biographies of Lange, and their father, Ron Partridge, who had been Lange's assistant and talked at length in the film about his experiences with Lange while she was taking her Depression photos. He is also the son of Imogene Cunningham. They talked and answered questions for about half an hour.

As I was leaving, I heard the man at the book table in the back saying this was one of the most enjoyable events he had seen there, and he wished it had continued longer.

I agree.

The image at the top of this post, "Migrant Mother," is from the
Library of Congress.

Although Ron Partridge emphatically stated that photography is not art, it's journalism -- I'm still including "art" as a tag to this post.

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