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.
Taylor’s film is built around Lange’s preparation for that retrospective. It features documentary footage of Lange, assistant Richard Conrad and MoMA curator John Szarkowski in Lange’s home as Lange selects the photographs for the exhibition. The images above are shots of the installation of the retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art. In many instances it’s easy to see famous Langes and the pictures with which she wanted them seen and considered. Each image above is from the collection of the Library of Congress and is expandable to 1,200px wide.
"Grab a Hunk of Lightning" premieres on PBS stations on 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.