Diane Arbus

Diane Arbus (1923–1971) was an American photographer and writer. She was known for her photography which often captured marginalized people, circus performers, transgender people, nudists, and others who were perceived by the general populace as unattractive or surreal. Her methods included establishing a strong personal relationship with her subjects and re-photographing some of them over many years.

In 1963, Arbus was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for a project on “American rites, manners, and customs”; the fellowship was renewed in 1966.

The first major exhibition of her photographs occurred at the Museum of Modern Art in an influential 1967 show called “New Documents”, alongside the work of Garry Winogrand and Lee Friedlander, curated by John Szarkowski. Szarkowski presented what he described as “a new generation of documentary photographers”, described elsewhere as “photography that emphasized the pathos and conflicts of modern life presented without editorializing or sentimentalizing but with a critical, observant eye.”

In 1972, a year after she committed suicide, Arbus became the first American photographer to have photographs displayed at the Venice Biennale. 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 was still in print by 2006, having become the best selling photography monograph ever. Between 2003 and 2006, Arbus and her work were the subjects of another major traveling exhibition, Diane Arbus Revelations.

Catherine Fox described her photography style to be “direct and unadorned, a frontal portrait centered in a square format. Her pioneering use of flash in daylight isolated the subjects from the background, which contributed to the photos’ surreal quality.”

[edited via Wikipedia]

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