In 1936, Dorothea Lange made one of the most iconic photographs of the twentieth century. Her portrait of Florence Owens Thompson, now known simply as Migrant Mother, portrays a migrant worker who, like countless others, had journeyed west from Oklahoma to California during the Great Depression. This image became a symbol of American endurance in the face of unemployment, hunger and homelessness.
While the world has changed dramatically over the last eighty years, much of what concerned Lange is just as relevant today: poverty, displacement, environmental devastation and racial inequality. Lange was perfectly placed to document and observe these changes as they gripped the United States from the 1930s to the Second World War and beyond.
A proto-feminist, visual activist and environmental campaigner, Lange was a powerful woman of unparalleled vigour and resilience. Using her camera as a political tool to shine a light on cruel injustices, Lange went on to become a founding figure of documentary photography.
Dorothea Lange: Politics of Seeing / Vanessa Winship: And Time Folds takes place from 22 June-2 Sep in the Barbican Art Gallery. Your ticket includes entry to both exhibitions.
Part of The Art of Change, our 2018 annual theme which explores how the arts respond to, reflect and potentially effect change in the social and political landscape.
Photo: Migratory Cotton Picker, Eloy, Arizona, 1940 © The Dorothea Lange Collection, the Oakland Museum of California