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Diane Arbus Revelations

Diane Arbus:   • A young man in curlers at home on West 20th Street, N.Y.C. 1966 • © 1971 Estate of Diane Arbus  • Photo courtesy of Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Diane Arbus:
A young man in curlers at home on West 20th Street, N.Y.C. 1966
© 1971 Estate of Diane Arbus
Photo courtesy of Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Diane Arbus Revelations
HOUSTON  •  Museum of Fine Arts, Houston  •  Ongoing
The exhibition consists of nearly 200 of the artist’s most significant photographs—making it the most complete presentation of her work ever assembled. Prints are drawn from major public and private collections throughout the world and include many images that have never been exhibited publicly. The artist’s working method and intellectual influences are revealed through the display of contact sheets, cameras, letters, notebooks, and other writings, as well as through books from Arbus’s personal library. Benefiting from new research into her career, Diane Arbus Revelations explores the roots of her prodigious influence on contemporary artistic practice.

Diane Arbus (1923–1971) found most of her subjects in New York City, a place that she explored as both known geography and a foreign land. She was a photographer primarily of people she discovered in the metropolis and its environs during the 1950s and 1960s. Her “contemporary anthropology”—portraits of couples, children, carnival performers, nudists, middle-class families, transvestites, people on the street, zealots, eccentrics, and celebrities—stands as an allegory of postwar America, an exploration of the relationship between appearance and identity, illusion and belief, theater and reality. Some of her best-known images—identical twins in New Jersey; a “Jewish giant” slouching to fit in the living room of his diminutive parents; and a young couple on the street whose demeanors evoke both early adolescence and late middle age—have become photographic icons.

Diane Arbus (born Diane Nemerov in New York City in 1923) first began taking pictures in the early 1940s. While working in partnership with her husband, Allan Arbus, as a stylist collaborating in their fashion photography business, she continued to take pictures on her own. She studied photography with Berenice Abbott in the 1940s and with Alexey Brodovitch in the mid-1950s. It was at Lisette Model’s photographic workshop circa 1956, however, where Arbus found inspiration and began seriously pursuing the work for which she has come to be known.

After the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the exhibition travels nationally and internationally, to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (February–May 2005); Museum Folkwang, Essen, Germany (June–September 2005); the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (October 2005–January 2006); and the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (July 9–October 8, 2006).

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Web Site

Contact: Tel: (1) 713 639 73 00

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