Social Realism and the Great Research Paper

Excerpt from Research Paper :

His painting (social realism) called "Approaching Storm" is a remarkable portrayal of a man walking up a hill with a bucket of water and two donkeys waiting to be told what to do. In the distance is a menacing storm. The website (Twecht.tripod) says that this farm could possibly have been a beautiful place to live at one point in time…but now it is gray and windy…all life in the painting ceases to exist" (www.twecht.tripod.com).

Dorothea Lange

Dorothea Lange is among the best known of all the photographers and artists that contributed to the social realism movement during the Great Depression. Lange's most famous photograph, "Migrant Mother," shows a worried woman with two "tousle-haired children clinging to her, their faces turned away from the camera" (Wu, 2010, p. 1). A third child is asleep in the woman's arms. That photo -- taken in a migrant camp in California -- is in the Library of Congress, and is in many respects the iconic image from the Depression. Lange was born in 1895 and grew up in the suburbs of New York city (Hoboken, NJ), the daughter of an attorney who was a member of the "elite among Hoboken's middle class" (Wu, p. 1).

Although she had never even had a camera in her hands, Lange had wanted to become a photographer. So after high school graduation she walked into the New York City studio of Arnold Genthe, a well-known photographer, and "talked herself into a job as general assistant so that she could learn the art of photography," Wu writes (p. 1). After her first marriage to a painter didn't seem to be working out, Lange met Paul Taylor, a professional economist at the University of California at Berkeley; the two of them became lovers and divorced their respective spouses. Taylor managed to get Lange a job with the Farm Security Administration as a photographer -- and so they drove all over California so Lange could do what she did best -- take photos. Taylor interviewed farmworkers as part of his job.

Prior to meeting Taylor, Lange worked for the Federal Resettlement Administration (RA), taking photos in the South in small towns documenting the lives of tenant farmers (www.archives.gov). Later, she photographed Japanese-Americans as they were placed in internment camps during WWII. Among the other photos she became famous for were her images from the Japanese internment camps. A photo showing Japanese-American young children with hands over hearts at the Weill public school in San Francisco is very poignant, because they were soon to be relocated with their parents to internment camps. Her photo of a ten-year-old migratory Mexican cotton picker fixing the family car (or trying to) is heartbreaking; he picked about 25 pounds of cotton the day after the photo was made (the History Place).

Works Cited

Archives. "Portfolio: Dorothea Lange." Retrieved Dec. 7, 2010, from http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/picturing_the_century/text/port_lange_text.html.

Illinois State Museum. "The Federal Art Project (FAP)" Retrieved Dec. 8, 2010, from http://www.museum.state.il.us/muslink/art/htmls/de_FAPhist.html. (2010).

The History Place. "Migrant Farm Families." Retrieved Dec. 8, 2010, from http://www.historyplace.com/unitedstates/lang/index.html. (2010).

Twecht Tripod. "Thomas Hart Benton: Approaching Storm, 1938." Retrieved Dec. 8, 2010,

from http://twecht.tripod.com/grapesofwrath/artofgd.htm.

Worsley, Peter. "Contemporary Social Realism." Retrieved Dec. 8, 2010, from http://www.peterworsley.com/links/contemporary_social_realism.html. (2010).

Wu, Corinna. "Nearly 45 years after her death from esophageal cancer, Dorothea Lange's

Great Depression photographs remain an inspiration." Collaboration Results. Retrieved Dec. 8, 2010, from http://www.crmagazine.ord. (2010).

Sources Used in Document:

Works Cited

Archives. "Portfolio: Dorothea Lange." Retrieved Dec. 7, 2010, from http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/picturing_the_century/text/port_lange_text.html.

Illinois State Museum. "The Federal Art Project (FAP)" Retrieved Dec. 8, 2010, from http://www.museum.state.il.us/muslink/art/htmls/de_FAPhist.html. (2010).

The History Place. "Migrant Farm Families." Retrieved Dec. 8, 2010, from http://www.historyplace.com/unitedstates/lang/index.html. (2010).

Twecht Tripod. "Thomas Hart Benton: Approaching Storm, 1938." Retrieved Dec. 8, 2010,

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