Diane Arbus - Photographs London Friday, September 25, 2020 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

  • Catalogue Essay

    Begun in 1958, this intimate series of female impersonators mainly features members of the Jewel Box Revue, a touring company that performed in clubs throughout New York City. In the present works, the subjects are undressed backstage – at their most vulnerable as they transition from man to woman and back again – and are presented as reflections in a mirror, surrounded by their personal effects. Arbus’s access to the performers’ dressing rooms, their private spaces and moments, demonstrates her ability to gain the trust of her chosen subjects.

  • 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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Tattooed female impersonator applying make-up in a mirror, N.Y.C.

Gelatin silver print, printed 1959-1961.
23 x 15.4 cm (9 x 6 1/8 in.)
Stamped 'A Diane Arbus print', signed by Doon Arbus, Executor, in ink, copyright credit and reproduction limitation stamps on the verso.

£20,000 - 30,000 

Sold for £25,000

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Rachel Peart
Head of Sale, Specialist

Yuka Yamaji
Head of Photographs, Europe

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London Auction 25 September 2020