These are five of the seven pictures Dorothea Lange took of Florence Thompson in Nipomo, Calif. in February, 1936. Thompson was a pea-picker and mother of seven children. Ever since Lange took her iconic photograph of Thompson — shown above in the best-known form, and at bottom in un-modified form (note the thumb in the lower right) — she’s been known as the Migrant Mother. These are five of the seven known Lange photographs of Thompson. Each is in the collection of the Library of Congress.
Tonight most PBS stations will premiere an "American Masters" documentary on the life and work of Dorothea Lange. Titled "Dorothea Lange: Grab a Hunk of Lightning," the film looks at Lange’s life from her upbringing outside New York City, to her emergence as a major American photographer. Lange is best-known for her work chronicling the Dust Bowl era, but her oeuvre includes much more, including pictures of Depression-era labor strife, the internment of Japanese-Americans and early environmentalist documentary photography. Such was Lange’s stature that just after she died in 1966 the Museum of Modern Art devoted just its sixth retrospective of a photographer’s career to her work.
Taylor was the lead guest on last week’s Modern Art Notes Podcast. She and host Tyler Green discussed the documentary and Lange’s life and work.
The Art of Swimming
The unfortunate, unofficial end of the summer comes to the US this Labor Day Weekend. With that in mind, a visual explainer from 1587.
Illustrations from Everard Digby’s De Arte Natandi (The Art of Swimming) published in 1587, considered the first English treatise on the practice. Divided into two parts, the first is largely theoretical (Digby wrote in Latin, though it would be translated into English by Christopher Middleton eight years later). The second part is concerned with practical demonstration borne out in a series of 40 beautiful woodcuts, all composed from five landscape blocks into which swimmers in various positions have been placed. The work was hugely influential, not just providing a practical guide to staying afloat and different strokes but also in its attention to issues of safety. As the Wellcome Library blog notes: “The work is alive to the dangers of swimming outdoors: Digby makes careful note of the safest methods of entering rivers, warning against jumping in feet first (particularly if the water has a muddy bottom to which your feet would stick) and advocating a slow and patient entry. Swimmers are also advised to have a companion with them, to help if they get into difficulties.
Things to get excited about:
- It’s Friday, which means,
- … weekend is around the corner, which also means,
- … it’s a long weekend
Happy end of the week, Tumblr.
The Breakfast Club