Diane Arbus - Photographs London Friday, May 15, 2009 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Private Collection, Europe

  • Literature

    Aperture, Diane Arbus, 1972, n.p.; Random House, Diane Arbus: Revelations, 2003, pp. 46-47

  • Catalogue Essay

    This portrait of a young New York City male transvestite in curlers was featured in Diane Arbus’s first museum exhibition (which also featured the work of Garry Winogrand and Lee Freidlander) in 1967 at the Museum of Modern Art. Entitled New Documents, themexhibition was organized by the museum’s influential director of photography, John Szarkowski—catapulting Arbus into a new sphere of recognition that would not abate even after her untimely death in 1971. While Arbus had begun her career working in commercial photography alongside her then husband Alan, she had abandoned those creative binds as well as her marriage by the late 1950s. First encouraged by photographer Lisette Model, she was later awarded two Guggenheim grants in 1963, and again in 1966. These endorsements increasingly fortified her artistic confidence and her freedom to pursue her now iconic, but then controversial, photographic journey into a world outside and beyond mid-century American propriety. After the New Documents exhibition—and with the changing landscape of new journalism during the late 1960s with its emphasis on gritty realism—Arbus was afforded renewed opportunities to explore her so-called families of wide ranging individuals spanning the gamut from society’s lowest to highest echelons. Publications such as Esquire, Harper’s Bazaar and the Sunday Times Magazine (London) regularly featured or commissioned her work inspiring her to pursue her vision in her last and most powerful work to an increasingly wider public. This 1967 work embodies the honesty and frankness that are the foundation of her place in the pantheon of photographic history.

  • 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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A young man in curlers at home on West 20th Street, N.Y.C

Gelatin silver print, printed 1974 by Neil Selkirk.
39.4 x 38.1 cm. (15 1/2 x 15 in).
Stamped 'A Diane Arbus photograph', signed, titled, dated, numbered 49/50 by Doon Arbus, Exector, in ink and copyright credit reproduction and limitation stamps on the verso.

£35,000 - 45,000 


16 May 2009, 3pm