Diane Arbus - Photographs New York Saturday, April 9, 2011 | Phillips

Create your first list.

Select an existing list or create a new list to share and manage lots you follow.

  • Provenance

    The Looking Glass Gallery, Michigan

  • Literature

    Aperture, Diane Arbus, n.p., Arbus, Sussman, Phillips, Selkirk and Rosenheim, Diane Arbus: Revelations, pp. 300-301, p. 209 (contact sheet)

  • Catalogue Essay

    In 1960, Diane Arbus first watched Tod Browning's 1932 movie Freaks, which featured an array of marginalized social oddballs, from midgets to a bearded lady. The same year, Marvin Israel, who became her lover and mentor, introduced her to the work of German photographer August Sander, typified by its blunt portrayal of the German social strata post-World War I. Both exposures stirred Arbus as she began searching for subjects to photograph in carnivals along the Eastern seaboard. Shortly thereafter, Arbus met The New Yorker writer Joseph Mitchell, himself renowned for his interest in social anomalies. It was he who taught Arbus how to socialize and gain the trust of people whose existence was otherwise dismissed or ridiculed by mainstream. In the early 1960s, Arbus met a number of individuals whom she included in her later works, including Eddie Carmel, The Jewish Giant.

    Billed as the Tallest Man on Earth by the Ringling Brothers Circus, the 8'9'' 34 year-old man was photographed with his parents by Arbus in 1970. By then, Arbus had won two Guggenheim fellowships, which she used to explore "the considerable ceremonies of our present because we tend while living here and now to perceive only what is random and barren and formless about it... These are our symptoms and our monuments. I want simply to save them, for what is ceremonious and curious and commonplace will be legendary." Despite the emphasis on the size discrepancy between Eddie Carmel and his parents, the photograph is a loving family portrait- even if awkwardly so, humanized by the eye of a photographer who had dedicated her life to capturing the undetected and overlooked.

  • 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. 

    View More Works


A Jewish giant at home with his parents in the Bronx, N.Y.

Gelatin silver print from the portfolio 'A box of ten photographs', printed later by Neil Selkirk.
15 x 15 in. (38.1 x 38.1 cm).
Stamped 'A Diane Arbus photograph', signed, titled, dated, numbered 37/50 by Doon Arbus, Executor, in ink, copyright credit, reproduction limitation and portfolio stamps on the verso.

$60,000 - 80,000 

Sold for $68,500


9 April 2011
New York