This week’s Modern Art Notes Podcast features documentary filmmaker Dyanna Taylor and art historian and author Judith Zilczer.
Taylor is the director of the forthcoming PBS "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.
"Grab a Hunk of Lightning" premieres on PBS stations this Friday, August 29. Check your local listings to see if your PBS station is airing it at that time.
Taylor has won five Emmy awards for her work as a cinematographer and director of photography, and as also won a Peabody Award for the “American Masters” episode “Winter Dreams: F. Scott Fitzgerald.” She’s currently at work on a documentary about James Turrell and Roden Crater. Taylor also happens to be Lange and husband Paul Taylor’s granddaughter.
Throughout the Depression Lange was interested in billboards — one of America’s first mass media — and in the ways the messages on the billboards contrasted with the conditions she found on her travels. Lange captioned this picture Camped in the rain behind billboard: three families, fourteen children. On U.S. 99. Near Famosa [or Vamosa], Kern County, California. Keep an eye on MANPodcast.com today for more of Lange’s pictures of billboards.