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Diane Arbus

American  •  1923-1971

Biography

Transgressing traditional boundaries, Diane Arbus is known for her highly desirable, groundbreaking portraiture taken primarily in the American Northeast during the late 1950s and 1960s. Famous for establishing strong personal relationships with her subjects, Arbus' evocative images capture them in varied levels of intimacy. Whether in their living rooms or on the street, their surreal beauty transcends the common distance found in documentary photography.

Taken as a whole, Arbus' oeuvre presents the great diversity of American society — nudists, twins, babies, beauty queens and giants — while each distinct image brings the viewer into contact with an exceptional individual brought to light through Arbus' undeniable genius. 

Insights

  • Diane Arbus was as part of the groundbreaking 'New Documents' show the Museum of Modern Art in 1967, where her work was exhibited alongside Garry Winogrand and Lee Friedlander.

  • In 1962 Arbus switched to a twin-lens reflex Rolleiflex from a 35mm Nikon camera, thus creating her widely recognized square format.

  • In 1963 Arbus was awarded the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship to photograph "American rites, manners and customs."

  • A Box of Ten Photographs is a portfolio of ten of her most iconic images and includes Identical twins, Roselle, N.J., 1967, A Jewish giant at home with his parents in the Bronx, N.Y., 1970, Boy with a straw hat waiting to march in a pro-war parade, N.Y.C., 1967.

"A photograph is a secret about a secret."

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