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These are five of the seven pictures Dorothea Lange took of Florence Thompson in Nipomo, Calif. in February, 1936. Thompson was a pea-picker and mother of seven children. Ever since Lange took her iconic photograph of Thompson — shown above in the best-known form, and at bottom in un-modified form (note the thumb in the lower right) — she’s been known as the Migrant Mother. These are five of the seven known Lange photographs of Thompson. Each is in the collection of the Library of Congress. 

Tonight most PBS stations will premiere an "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 was the lead guest on last week’s Modern Art Notes Podcast. She and host Tyler Green discussed the documentary and Lange’s life and work.

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