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White Angel Breadline

Photo Credit: Rich Sanders, Des Moines

White Angel Breadline

Artist: Dorothea Lange (American, 1895 - 1965)
Date: 1933, printed c. 1950s-1960s
Medium: Gelatin silver print
Dimensions:
Sheet: 13 7/8 × 11 in. (35.2 × 27.9 cm.)
Image: 13 3/8 × 10 1/2 in. (34 × 26.7 cm.)
Credit Line: Des Moines Art Center Permanent Collections; Purchased with funds from the Rusty Hubbell and Ellen and Jim Hubbell Photography Acquisition Fund, 2018.2
Accession number: 2018.2
Classification: photograph
Label TextThe Rusty Hubbell and Ellen and Jim Hubbell Photography Accession Fund has made possible the accession of Dorothea Lange's White Angel Breadline, 1933, a gelatin silver print printed under the photographer's supervision, c. 1950s-1960s. Dorothea Lange studied photography at Columbia University with Clarence H. White in 1918. Following her studies, she moved to San Francisco where she set up a studio and made portraits for wealthy socialites and celebrities through the 1920s. By 1933, the poverty caused by the Depression was acutely visible, present in the number of unemployed and homeless people in the city and the long lines for food relief and workers' compensation. Lange wrote "the discrepancy between what I was working on...and what was going on in the street was more than I could assimilate." This photograph was made on one of the artist's first ventures onto the city streets with her camera. In San Francisco's Mission District, Lange captured the image of a single, isolated man in a crowd of other men with their backs turned toward him. Staring bleakly ahead, his being embodies weariness, the low brim of his hat obscures his individuality, and his tin cup appears empty. This disturbing yet poignant image of hopelessness and despair is beautifully balanced with respect for the man photographed. Lange's new commitment to practicing documentary photography led her to be hired in 1935 by the federal government's Farm Security Administration. Along with Migrant Mother, White Angel Breadline became one of Lange's most renowned photographs and one that would represent the face of the Great Depression. This is the first work by Lange to enter the collections. 1. Jan Goggans, California on the Breadlines: Dorothea Lange, Paul Taylor, and the Making of the New Deal Narrative, (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2010), 15. Source: News, April, May, June 2018
entirely unexpected