Diane Arbus: in the Beginning

From 13 February and until 6 May, is opening the exhibition Diane Arbus: in the beginning, at Hayward Gallery in London.
The exhibition features more than 100 photographs, the majority of which are vintage prints made by the artist, drawn from the Diane Arbus Archive at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
More than two-thirds of these photographs have never been seen before in the UK.

Diane Arbus was an American photographer with russian origins.
She was famous for her poignant portraits of individuals on the margins of society, such as street people, transvestites, nudists, and carnival performers.

Arbus’s work is highly controversial, eliciting in some viewers an overwhelming sense of compassion, while others find her images bizarre and disturbing.
Her practice challenged established conventions dictating the distance between photographer and subject, resulting in the raw psychological intensity that characterizes her photographic portraiture.

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”.

She was everywhere in New York between 1956 and 1962. On the streets and in Central Park, on the subway, in movie theatres and diners, on Coney Island and in New Jersey homes, in grim apartments, in revue dressing rooms, at the circus and in the morgue.

With her 35mm camera and her eye, her ability to confront, cajole and to seduce, her talent was as much one of gaining trust from her subjects.

The exhibition Diane Arbus, In the Beginning focuses on these first eight years of her work as an independent photographer, following over a decade in the fashion photography business, where she and her husband Allan Arbus worked together, he as photographer, she as stylist and art director.

The original exhibition is augmented at the Hayward by a number of later, mostly better-known square-format images, shot between 1962 and 1970 and first printed as an edition, A Box of Ten Photographs, in 1970, comprising legendary portraits including Identical twins, Roselle, N.J. 1967 and A Jewish giant at home with his parents in the Bronx, N.Y. 1970.

Organised by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and adapted for Hayward Gallery, the exhibition takes an in-depth look at the formative first half of Arbus’ career, during which the photographer developed the direct, psychologically acute style for which she later became so widely celebrated. 

Diane Arbus: In the Beginning
Hayward Gallery
13 FEB – 6 MAY 2019

More info on Hayward Gallery’s website.

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