Author(s): Diane Arbus
Staff notes: Ah, Diane Arbus! This book sends a little jolt to our hearts whenever we leaf through it. Her work is renowned for seeing and valuing the overlooked: intimate portraits of marginalised people taken with sensitivity and respect. Burnt out from doing commercial work during the 1940s, Arbus (1923 – 1971) took to the streets of New York and documented the city through its citizens, paying special attention to those on the fringes. Arbus was interested in secrets, playing with revealing and concealing in a visual medium. Her work is also about story. It’s about lived experience and hard lives. Arbus herself struggled with depressive episodes, and, in 1971, committed suicide, aged only 48. The year following her death, the Museum of Modern Art held a major retrospective of her work. The 80 images that made up the exhibition are collected in this book.
When Diane Arbus died in 1971 at the age of forty-eight, she was already a significant influence even something of a legend among serious photographers, although only a relatively small number of her most important pictures were widely known at the time. The response was unprecedented. This is a monograph of eighty photographs.