“White Angel Bread Line, San Francisco,” by Dorothea Lange, 1933. Gelatin silver print, 10 3/4 x 8 7/8″ (27.3 x 22.6 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Albert M. Bender
Many times when I write a “Fine-Art Photography Friday” blog post, I’ll mention that “these are some of the intriguing photo exhibitions or films taking place around the U.S.” In doing so, my hope is to allow the reader to physically go to one of the profiled museums, galleries or theaters, buy a ticket and then enter. But since most everything is closed, that doesn’t makes much sense.
Instead, I’ve decided to write about some of the wonderful online fine-art photography exhibitions and film presentations currently taking place on the web. Here are three notable examples of such content that I believe will intrigue and inspire you:
Museum Photo Exhibition: “Dorothea Lange Words & Pictures” At The MoMA
The first one is a show that did open in New York, but is now closed. The Museum of Modern Art had planned to present “Dorothea Lange Words & Pictures” through May 9, 2020, which the museum said “was the first major solo exhibition at the museum of the photographer’s incisive work in over 50 years” and included approximately 100 photographs drawn entirely from the MoMA’s collection. It’s an understatement to say that it’s a shame that such a great show had to close. In part, it’s because Lange was one of the great 20th century documentary photographers, whose work includes the iconic “Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California,” and many others that continue to resonate. But luckily, you can still see her work, here online on the MoMA’s website.
The MoMA also includes an additional article about Lange on its website, titled, “Written by Dorothea Lange.” In it, the article asks, “How do words and pictures work together? Dorothea Lange took great care in combining photographs with words to communicate the stories of everyday life.” It also quotes the artist herself, who said, “all photographs—not only those that are so-called ‘documentary’… can be fortified by words.”
One of her landmark photo books “An American Exodus: A Record of Human Erosion,” also vividly illustrates this point. The book was a collaborative project that Dorothea Lange worked on with the economist and writer Paul Taylor. According to the MoMA article, in the book, the two weave “together text drawn from field notes, folk song lyrics, newspaper excerpts, sociological observations, and quotations from the sharecroppers, displaced people, and migrant workers whom Lange photographed.” It’s a great example of how great photographers are often also great communicators, and take care with the words they use to write their captions.
If you’re interested to learn how contemporary photographers are inspired by a master photographer like Lange, be sure to read “The Art of Documentary Photography: Dorothea Lange Reconsidered” by Holly Stuart Hughes, who wrote about the show when it was still open and interviewed Sam Contis, a photographer inspired by Lange’s work.
Here are a couple of additional fine-art online websites to check out:
Portrait Photography: “Vanity Fair: Hollywood Calling”
A preview video of photos in the exhibition.
This exhibition, titled “Vanity Fair: Hollywood Calling—The Stars, the Parties, and the Powerbrokers” at The Annenberg Space for Photography, in Los Angeles, comprises celebrity portraits culled from Vanity Fair magazine over the past four decades, and includes photos by Annie Leibovitz, of course, but also Helmut Newton, Mark Seliger, Herb Ritts and other luminaries. The online tour is expertly narrated by exhibit curator and Vanity Fair creative development editor David Friend in a beautiful slideshow of selected exhibit images, which Friend says reveal “the deep impact of photographic portraiture” and in many ways are “icons of icons.”
Film Short: “That’s My Jazz”
“That’s My Jazz” is a wonderfully tender, sumptuous, mostly black-and-white 14-minute heartfelt film that presents an intimate portrait of Milt Abel II, who is considered one of the best young pastry chefs in the world. According to the New York film festival’s website, “the son of Kansas City jazz legend Milt Abel Sr., Milt II longed to follow in his father’s footsteps, but on a different stage.” This short is part of the New York Film festival series A Short Film a Day Keeps Anxiety Away and is directed by Ben Proudfoot and produced by Breakwater Studios. It’s a video that has brilliant visuals, inspiring music and a remarkably captivating monolog that all work together incredibly well. During the film, the son calls his dad, “Hall of fame jazz musician. Hall of fame dad.”
Watch the film! It’s guaranteed to reconnect you to the human race!