Private Collection, 2001
Ansel Adams, How To Do It Series, No. 8: Making a Photograph, An Introduction to Photography (New York, 1935), p. 93
Karen Tsujimoto, Dorothea Lange, Archive of an Artist (Oakland Museum of California, 1995), p. 9
Thomas J. Maloney, U. S. Camera 1941, p. 116
Edward Steichen, ed., The Family of Man (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1955), p. 151
John Szarkowski, Dorothea Lange (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1966), p. 20
Therese Thau Heyman, Celebrating a Collection: The Work of Dorothea Lange (Oakland Museum of California, 1978), p. 57
Dorothea Lange: Photographs of a Lifetime (Aperture, 1982), p. 45
Therese Thau Heyman, Sandra S. Phillips, and John Szarkowski, Dorothea Lange: American Photographs (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 1994), pl. 1
Keith F. Davis, The Photographs of Dorothea Lange (Kansas City, 1995), cover and p. 21
Barbara Haskell, The American Century: Art and Culture, 1900-1950 (New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, 1999), pl. 483
Pierre Borhan, Dorothea Lange: The Heart and Mind of a Photographer (Boston, 2002), p. 71
Anne Whiston Spirn, Daring to Look: Dorothea Lange’s Photographs and Reports from the Field (Chicago, 2008), p. 16
White Angel Breadline has been variously cropped by countless picture editors of the magazines and books in which it has appeared. It exemplifies how cropping decisions affect viewer interpretation. Some versions of this image show the unaltered, full-frame format, inclusive of most of a sign at the upper right corner, buildings in the background, and a sea of men waiting in the breadline. In the most well-known version of the image, only a fraction of the sign remains in the frame, the buildings in the background are eliminated entirely, and, other than the man at the front, only one or two other men face forward. The photograph offered here presents the most focused cropping of this iconic image. Nearly all visual information in the background has been eliminated, commanding all attention on the figure who faces away from the crowd and towards Lange’s camera.
In 1935, only two years after Lange made this picture, the image was included in the photography annual U. S. Camera. The cropping chosen for the annual is remarkably similar to that of the present lot. In these tightly cropped versions of White Angel Breadline, our attention is even further honed on the central figure with his clasped hands and set jaw, emphasizing resilience, isolation, and dignity. 'I had to get my camera to register the things that were more important than how poor they were—their pride, their strength, their spirit' (quoted in Restless Spirit, p. 47).
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