This volume examines the life and career of Dorothea Lange (1895–1965), who is most recognized for her social documentary work during the Great Depression of the 1930s. The J. Paul Getty Museum holds nearly one hundred of the artist's pictures, about fifty of which are discussed in the book. These include the iconic images of homeless farm families as well as lesser-known Southwestern views, personal photographs Lange made at home in the 1950s, and late compositions from an extensive trip to Asia and the Middle East. In Focus: Dorothea Lange was published to coincide with an exhibition of her photographs, About Life: The Photographs of Dorothea Lange that was held at the Getty Museum from October 15, 2002 through February 9, 2003.
The book includes an edited transcript of a colloquium on Lange, with participants Judith Keller, associate curator of photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum; Keith Davis, fine arts programs director, Hallmark Cards, Inc.; David Featherstone, independent curator, freelance writer, and editor; Therese Heyman, curator emeritus, Oakland Museum of Photography; Weston Naef, curator emeritus of photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum; Sally Stein, associate professor of art history, University of California, Irvine; and Michael Williamson, Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer and author, currently working for the Washington Post. Their animated conversation adds greatly to the understanding of the artist's creations. A complete chronology of major events in Lange's life rounds out the book.