Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Restless Spirit: The Life and Work of Dorothea Lange by Elizabeth Partridge

I picked up Restless Spirit for two reasons. In Nashville recently, Lange's work was part of a photography exhibit at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts and I was reminded of how much I like her work. I am also always looking for non-fiction titles that are specifically of interest to teens, and I thought this might fit. After reading the book, I'd say Grade 5-8 students are the main audience, so it is best shelved where it is, in the children's section, not in the teen area.

The book has wonderful quotes from Lange. My favourite: "I realize more and more what it takes to be a really good photographer. You go in over your head, not just up to your neck."

The story behind her most famous photo, Migrant Mother, was interesting. No mention was made, however, of the different editions of this photo. The one in the book has the edited thumb in the lower right corner. (I knew to look for this after comparing 2 versions at the Frist.)

I was a little surprised that no mention was made of her trip to County Clare, Ireland. The book with those photos was published in 1996 and I believe it sold very well. Restless Spirit was published in 1998. There was a fascinating documentary made when her son, Dan, who had accompanied Lange on her Irish trip in 1954, returned to Co. Clare in 2005, looking for the subjects in his mother's photos.

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