Diane Arbus

1923–1971

Biography

Diane Arbus (; March 14, 1923 – July 26, 1971) was an American photographer. Although Arbus’s most famous subjects were outsiders such as transgender people, strippers, carnival performers, nudists, dwarves, and other marginalized people, she was equally drawn to subjects as ordinary as children, mothers, couples, old people, and middle-class families. She photographed her subjects in familiar settings: their homes, on the street, in the workplace, in the park. In his 2003 New York Times Magazine article, "Arbus Reconsidered," Arthur Lubow states, "She was fascinated by people who were visibly creating their own identities—cross-dressers, nudists, sideshow performers, tattooed men, the nouveau riche, the movie-star fans—and by those who were trapped in a uniform that no longer provided any security or comfort." Michael Kimmelman writes in his review of the exhibition Diane Arbus Revelations, "Her memorable work, which she did, on the whole, not for hire but for herself, was all about heart—a ferocious, audacious heart. It transformed the art of photography (Arbus is everywhere, for better and worse, in the work of artists today who make photographs), and it lent a fresh dignity to the forgotten and neglected people in whom she invested so much of herself."

In her lifetime she achieved some recognition and renown with the publication, beginning in 1960, of photographs in such magazines as Esquire, Harper’s Bazaar, the London Sunday Times Magazine, and Artforum. In 1963 the Guggenheim Foundation awarded Arbus a fellowship for her proposal entitled, "American Rites, Manners and Customs." She was awarded a renewal of her fellowship in 1966. John Szarkowski, the director of photography at the Museum of Modern Art from 1962 to 1991, championed her work and included it in his groundbreaking 1967 exhibit New Documents along with the work of Lee Friedlander and Garry Winogrand. Her photographs were also included in a number of other major group shows.

In 1972, a year after she died by suicide Arbus became the first photographer to be included in the Venice Biennalewhere her photographs were "the overwhelming sensation of the American Pavilion. If one’s natural tendency is to be skeptical about a legend, it must be said that all suspicion vanishes in the presence of the Arbus work, which is extremely powerful and very strange.”

A retrospective organized by John Szarkowski at the Museum of Modern Art in New York had the highest attendance of any exhibition in MOMA's history to date. Millions viewed traveling exhibitions of her work in 1972–1979. The book accompanying the exhibition, Diane Arbus: An Aperture Monograph, edited by Doon Arbus and Marvin Israel and first published in 1972 has never been out of print.

This biography is from Wikipedia under an Attribution-ShareAlike Creative Commons License. Spotted a problem? Let us know.

Read full Wikipedia entry

Artworks

Features

You might like