Diane Arbus - PHOTOGRAPHS New York Friday, April 16, 2010 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York

  • Literature

    Aperture, Diane Arbus, cover and n.p.; Arbus, Sussman, Phillips, Selkirk and Rosenheim, Diane Arbus: Revelations, pp. 182, 265 & 270-271

  • Catalogue Essay

    In her 1963 Guggenheim Fellowship proposal, American Rites, Manners and Customs, Diane Arbus stated that her interest lied in photographing "the considerable ceremonies of our present, […] I want to gather them, […] because they will have been so beautiful." The wish to preserve the moments of understated existence continued for the rest of her brief if potent career, during which Arbus turned her attention to "things that nobody would see unless I photographed them," as she stated in 1969. From dwarfs to giants, nudists to transvestites, and as we see in this image, twins, Arbus gravitated towards people whose existence was a source of intrigue by society. Her images of the aforementioned subjects are frontal and candid, removed from the critical context in which they had been presented heretofore. The identical twins, adorned in identical clothes, headbands, and hairdos, upon closer inspection begin diverging in personalities as differences in their facial expressions and gaze quietly surface. Their identical presentation is rendered heavy-handed and contrived as they morph into two distinct individuals. It is a powerful testament to Arbus’s gently subversive eye, seeking the normal in the marginalized, and highlighting the unnerving in mainstream.

  • Artist Biography

    Diane Arbus

    American • 1923 - 1971

    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. 

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Identical Twins, Roselle, NJ

Gelatin silver print from A Box of Ten Photographs, printed later by Neil Selkirk.
14 3/4 x 15 in. (37.5 x 38.1 cm).
Stamped 'A Diane Arbus photograph', signed, titled, dated, numbered 19/50 by Doon Arbus, Executor, in ink, credit reproduction limitation and portfolio stamps on the verso.

$70,000 - 90,000 

Sold for $98,500


16 April 2010
New York