Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Records of The Great Depression ~ Dorothea Lange

In the current financial climate, with recession or depression constantly under discussion, a look at the work of a photographer from a previous era reminds us that things could be a lot worse. We will not reach the depths of the depression suffered in the 1930s this time around. We started from a much higher level. Dorothea Lange's photographs offer us perspective, and reason to be grateful that most of us did have a very different starting point.

Born in Hoboken, New Jersey on 26 May 1895, Ms Lange studied photography at Columbia University, then did studio portrait work. She married painter Maynard Dixon and they travelled through the south western states, where she photographed Native Americans.

This photographer's fame comes mainly from her work during the Great Depression when she began documenting the suffering populace, breadlines, and strikes. Her first marriage over, she had re-married a labour economist and together they were employed by the California and Federal Resettlement Administration.
Their job: to record the Dust Bowl exodus when drought and hard times forced thousands of farm families to move west in search of work. Later, during World War
2 she documented the internment of Japanese Americans.

Ms Lange's best known photograph is a portrait titled "Migrant Mother".

This is said to be one of the most reproduced photographs in history. It has its own back story too.
The family of the woman, subject of the portrait, later objected to the way their mother had been depicted. She was, they said, not a true migrant, the family had lived in California for many years, but had fallen on hard times. They had been staying overnight at the camp where Ms Lange found them, on their way elsewhere to new work. Years later, however, when their mother fell ill and in need of expensive care and tratement, a local newspaper covered the story and re-printed the photograph. This jogged the memory of numerous readers who had found comfort from that photograph years earlier during their own bad times. Thousands of dollars rolled in to the newspaper, to aid the former "Migrant Mother".

Dorothea Lange died of cancer in 1965.

There's no time of birth available, the chart below is set for noon. Rising sign will be inaccurate, as will exact degree of the Moon which would have been in either Gemini or Cancer at the time of her birth.

This is an interesting chart, made up entirely of Air and Water emphasis. Rising sign could add a different element, of course. Gemini and Cancer in a fairly tight large cluster, with a dash of Scorpio added.
"Dorothea Lange’s work reflects insight, compassion and profound empathy for her subjects. Her photographs are reproduced in books and housed in museum collections, most numerously in the Oakland Museum of California. Although she did not consider herself to be an artist, she said of her work: “To live a visual life is an enormous undertaking, practically unattainable…But I have only touched it, just touched it.” "
Insight empathy and compassion come via Water signs Cancer and Scorpio, her inner need to communicate what she saw with the world at large comes from Gemini, the zodiac's main communicator. Without a time of birth which would show us where the angles of the chart lay, it's not easy to say much more! Her two Scorpio planets, Saturn and Uranus harmonize with the Cancer planets by trine aspect, drawing in some extra passion for any job she undertook, and adding a certain sharpness to her insight, which, if coming only from Cancer planets might have produced a maudlin or sentimental set of photographs, instead of the colder, harder but more representative images she left for us.

More at: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=92656801


Anonymous said...

Thank you for reminding me of this talented person, Twilight. I really enjoyed this!

Wisewebwoman said...

Wonderful photos, T, what an extraodinary talent.
I wish I shared your optimism that our times will not match the great depression however.
PS And I did notice your new photo, wonderful.

Mark Shulgasser said...

I always enjoy your blog. I notice, that as a Gemini, hands are important to Lange. Her two most famous shots, Migrant Mother and White Angel Breadline both feature expressive hands. I have a hand shot of hers on my Gemini blog.

By the way, I notice your photos don't show up on astrodispatch. Mine neither. We've been trying to figure out why. So far no luck.

Twilight said...

Chrispito - Hi there - thank for visiting! Glad you liked it.

Twilight said...

WWW ~~~ Thanks.

I'm semi-optimistic, because we relly did start from a different place from those people in the Great Depression. In a relative sense it might seem as bad now, to those worst hit, but so many things are different. I doubt it will be truly comparable.

I shall keep hoping.

Twilight said...

Mark - thank you !

You have a nice thing going with Aries in Red, I see.

Yes, I hadn't noticed the "hands" thing, thanks for pointing that out.

Re Astrodispatch and the pics - I'd assumed it was because I opted for the short version in Blogger settings. If I opted for the full posts to be copied, I'm not sure whether the pics would be included or not. I see that others with just a short section of their post showing still get the pics copied though.

Hmmmm - well, I'm a numbskull when it comes to stuff like that, so I just have to accept whatever comes.

R J Adams said...


Twilight said...

RJ ~~ Glad you found it so. :-)