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  • Provenance

    Galerie Thomas Zander, Cologne

  • Catalogue Essay

    Three Transvestites in evening dress at a lounge in N.Y.C, 1961, is a perfect example of Diane Arbus' photographic practice and aesthetic. The three beautiful, towering subjects stare seductively into the camera, making the viewer aware of the emotionally charged relationship between subject and artist. This relationship highlights Arbus’ ability to capture those on the fringes of society, presenting them in a unique and judgement-free light.

    Taken during a period of seismic change in America, at the height of the African-American civil rights movement, Arbus chose to present a group of not just transvestites but African-American transvestites, reaffirming her status as a polemic figure in photographic representation and her keen socio-political eye. This photograph is one of the last landscape-format portraits she would make, marking a moment of transition for the artist. The following year, Arbus began using a Rolleiflex and developed a frontal, square-format style that would become her signature.

    Three Transvestites is quintessential of Arbus’ choice and framing of subject, yet surprisingly obscure. This image has not been included in any major exhibition and is appearing at auction for the very first time. Prints of this previously unpublished image are exceptionally rare.

  • 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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83

Three transvestites in evening dress at a lounge, N.Y.C.

1961
Gelatin silver print, printed 1961-1963.
14.9 x 22.3 cm (5 7/8 x 8 3/4 in.)
Stamped 'A Diane Arbus Print', signed by Doon Arbus, Executor, in ink, copyright credit and reproduction limitation stamps on the verso.

Estimate
£10,000 - 15,000 

Sold for £42,500

Contact Specialist
Genevieve Janvrin
Head of Photographs, Europe
+44 20 7318 4092

Photographs

London Auction 19 May 2016