Lisette Model, Diane Arbus, Nan Goldin: The Camera is Cruel

The Austrian Cultural Forum presents The Camera is Cruel: Lisette Model, Diane Arbus, Nan Goldin. Curated by Dr. Gerald Matt, the exhibition, previously shown at FLATZ Museum in Dornbirn (2018) and the WestLicht Museum for Photography in Vienna (2019), brings together a selection of key works in an exclusive joint presentation of the work of the three iconic photographers. The exhibition is on view April 8 – June 15, 2022.

During different phases of the 20th century, Model, Arbus and Goldin recorded the social life of America, which, as a land of immigration, remains to this day a reflection of the wider world. All three were interested in the social dimensions of co-existence, in those living on the margins of society, in extraordinary personalities, and in the eccentric. With the lenses of their cameras, they cast a highly personal glance at people and their disparate living environments as a means of repeatedly questioning the validity of norms and conventions. As representatives of three generations — starting with Viennese-born Model– their works are as much expressions of their times and their particular environments as they are tributes to the plurality of being itself. Model, Arbus and Goldin also redefined, each in her own way, the dialogue between photographer and subject joining a documentary with a highly idiosyncratic approach.

A portrait of Diane Arbus
A portrait of Lisette Model
A portrait of Nan Goldin

Lisette Model could have been speaking for all three when she remarked, in a very assured manner, “Never photograph anything you are not personally interested in.”
It is not only the themes but also the attitude and approach towards social and existential issues that link these three extraordinary photographers.
Diane Arbus was, in fact, a student of Model at the New School for Social Research in New York, and significantly influenced by her work.
Though Goldin initially looked to separate herself from the cautious distance and coldness of Arbus’ pictures –that reflected the spirit of their time– her work is unimaginable without that of her two predecessors.

Each in a different time and social context, Model, Arbus and Goldin radically widened and enhanced artistic photography with a new perspective, which leaves social and aesthetic limits behind and shows people and the world in all their diversity and colorfulness.

The Camera is Cruel: Lisette Model, Diane Arbus, Nan Goldin
From the collection of Dr. Daniel Jelitzka
APRIL 7 – JUNE 15, 2022
Austrian Cultural Forum – New York

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