DIANE ARBUS (1923-1971)

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TRIPLETS IN THEIR BEDROOM, NEW JERSEY, 1963 by DIANE ARBUS (1923-1971) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley





Diane Arbus is one of the most celebrated American photographers of the twentieth-century, renowned for her black and white portraits of people on the fringes of society.

Early Life

Arbus was born in New York in 1923. Having been born into a wealthy family, Arbus' youth was spent trying to separate herself from her privileged upbringing and her work played an integral role in her attempting to achieve that. She is renowned for her depictions of figures who were not considered fit for the camera, people who were outcasts or marginalised by mainstream society.

She met her husband, Allan Arbus, in 1936, while he was working at her family's department store, Russek's, marrying him in 1941. Arbus' interest in photography was encouraged by her husband who had bought Arbus her first camera.

Photographic Career

Arbus once said that, "I really believe there are things nobody would see if I didn't photograph them." Most of her photographs are set in New York City, where she lived and died. Her photographs of children and eccentrics, couples and circus performers, female impersonators and Fifth Avenue pedestrians are amongst the most intimate and surprising images of the era.

Her work is often regarded as controversial because of the provocative nature of the subject matter; some believe it to be uncomfortable and disturbing, whilst others consider it to be endearing and compassionate. Arbus would often spend hours with her subjects, photographing them in the confines of their own space, which is what gives her portraits a striking honesty and intimacy.

Arbus took her own life in 1971, aged 48, after a long battle with depression. She was the first photographer chosen to represent the United States at the Venice Biennale, just one year later, in 1972.

Exhibitions and Awards

Her work continues to be a source of inspiration for many photographers today, and features in various collections and institutions around the world including the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the National Galleries of Scotland in Edinburgh.

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