Daring to Look: Dorothea Lange's Photographs and Reports from the Field

Daring to Look: Dorothea Lange's Photographs and Reports from the Field

by Anne Whiston Spirn


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Daring to Look: Dorothea Lange's Photographs and Reports from the Field by Anne Whiston Spirn

Daring to Look presents never-before-published photos and captions from Dorothea Lange’s fieldwork in California, the Pacific Northwest, and North Carolina during 1939. Lange’s images of squatter camps, benighted farmers, and stark landscapes are stunning, and her captions—which range from simple explanations of settings to historical notes and biographical sketches—add unexpected depth, bringing her subjects and their struggles unforgettably to life, often in their own words.

When Lange was dismissed from the Farm Security Administration at the end of 1939, these photos and field notes were consigned to archives, where they languished, rarely seen. With Daring to Look, Anne Whiston Spirn not only returns them to the public eye, but sets them in the context of Lange’s pioneering life, work, and struggle for critical recognition—firmly placing Lange in her rightful position at the forefront of American photography.

“A thoughtful and meticulously researched account of Lange’s career. . . . Spirn, a photographer herself, traces Lange’s path, visiting her locations and subjects in a fascinating series of ‘then and now’ shots.”—Publishers Weekly

“Dorothea Lange has long been regarded as one of the most brilliant photographic witnesses we have ever had to the peoples and landscapes of America, but until now no one has fully appreciated the richness with which she wove images together with words to convey her insights about this nation. We are lucky indeed that Anne Whiston Spirn, herself a gifted photographer and writer, has now recovered Lange’s field notes and woven them into a rich tapestry of texts and images to help us reflect anew on Lange’s extraordinary body of work.”—William Cronon, author of Nature’s Metropolis

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780226769844
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publication date: 07/28/2008
Pages: 376
Product dimensions: 8.70(w) x 10.60(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Anne Whiston Spirnis professor of landscape architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A photographer herself, she is the author of The Granite Garden: Urban Nature and Human Design and The Language of Landscape.

Table of Contents

Prologue           “A Discoverer, a Real Social Observer”
                        Dorothea Lange

One                  Dorothea Lange and the Art of Discovery
                        Anne Whiston Spirn

Two                 Photographs and Reports from the Field, 1939
                        Dorothea Lange
                              Editor’s Note
                              California (January to May)
                              The Highway
                              The Farm Factory
                              North Carolina (July)
                              The Farmers, Black and White
                              Pacific Northwest (August-October)
                              The Migrant Life
                              The Government and the Farmers
                              The Cutover Land
                              The Irrigated Desert

Three                Then and Now
                        Anne Whiston Spirn

Appendix A      Chronology of Dorothea Lange’s Life
Appendix B       Description of New Deal Organizations and Programs
Appendix C      Documents Submitted by Lange with General Captions
Appendix D      Key to Negatives and General Captions
Appendix E      Additional General Captions from 1939

Essay on Sources
List of Illustrations

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