Diane Arbus | In the Beginning.

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As part of the inaugural season at The Met Breuer, diane arbus: in the beginning opened earlier this month, featuring an eye opening new look at one of the most influential and provocative artists of the 20th century. The exhibit showcases her early works and influences until her death at 48. The photographs focus on the evolution of her style in the early years – specifically those from 1956-1962- using a 35 mm camera to her eventual signature the 2.25-inch square Rolleiflex format. The exhibit displays over a hundred unseen photographs that were gifted to The Met by her daughters Doon and Amy Arbus.

Arbus began her career, alongside her husband Allan as a prominent fashion photographer, however she found the subjects mundane and uninspiring. It was her mentor and teacher, Lisette Model that triggered her outstanding career, encouraging her to capture what she saw and felt. Arbus walked the streets of New York capturing subjects that spoke to her. She began making lists in her notebooks of people she wanted to photograph, ‘morgue’, ‘weird women’. Arbus titled her works as if she was cataloging specimens she was studying. The obvious titles give nothing away regarding the quirky, unconventional subjects.

From the beginning, Arbus believed fully that she had something special to offer the world, a glimpse of its many secrets: “I do feel I have some slight corner on something about the quality of things. I mean it’s very subtle and a little embarrassing to me but I really believe there are things which nobody would see unless I photographed them.” Arbus focused on people on the fringes of society, the details that made them unique, and unlike any of her peers, she, the photographer, played a distinct role in the photos.  Instead of being invisible, the viewer can see and feel the subject address the photographer with its gaze. As a result, her photographs of NYC and its inhabitants are some of the most poignant of the era.

The museum is curated to reflect Arbus’s procedure while shooting subjects. They are each positioned alone on white walls, staggered along the walls to give the audience the feel Arbus had while roaming the streets. Learn more about the exhibit HERE.  You can buy the exhibit catalog HERE. art_07272016_krasinski_diane_arbus_stripper_with_bare_breas medium_FN_07_22_DIANEARBUS_fire-eater medium_FN_07_22_DIANEARBUS_aiming-a-gun
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Comments

  1. Thanks for this info on Diane Arbus. She is one of my favorites. I don’t live anywhere near NY and can’t get to the exhibit but enjoyed reading this post about her and will browse the museum website as well. I have several of her books and used to use the photos as prompts in creative writing workshops I led. They always produced some provocative poems and stories as well. She photographed all the people we look AWAY from and don’t want to see. A fascinatng woman!