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7 February 2011
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Documents for Artists

Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California  Dorothea Lange

Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California © Library of Congress

In 1935 a number of leading photographers were commissioned to produce propaganda images for the Farm Security Administration, set up to ease the effects of the depression in rural America.

"Since these photographs were taken at the behest of the government, in order to support Government relief efforts, there's an obvious strategy involved to portray the Government in a very positive light. Not only the Government, more important than the Government, were the recipients of relief, so the most famous examples occur with the idealisation of the 'Dustbowl' refugees, for example, in the photography of Dorothea Lange. In the six photographs of the series, she proceeds to reduce the size of the family which is identified in her captions as seven people down to three young children, one of whom is an infant and thereby the family suddenly conforms to middle class standards on family size." (James Curtis, Photo-historian)

Extract from 'Documents for Artists', Genius of Photography (Wall to Wall)

Documents for Artists

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