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Diana Arbus

Today I would like to present my favourite photographer. Best known for her controversial photos, an American street photographer called Diane Arbus.

She was born in 1923 in New York to a wealthy jewish family, who were immigrants from the Soviet Russia. She married Allan Arbus when she was only 18 years old. It was Allan who introduced her to photography.

After the second world war, the couple began to work together in fashion photography when Diane’s father asked them to produce advertising for his department store. Their work eventually appeared in magazines such as Harper’s Bazaar.

Diane gradually became unhappy working with her husband and moved on to a Workshop of Alexey Brodovitch. Alexey taught Arbus; “ The more specific you are in photography the more general it would be”.

Diane once said: “I really believe there are things nobody would see if I did not photograph them.”

Just look at her photos and you will see what she meant. She photographed people with troubled lives, people from underground, people who were not excepted and respected by the rest of society. It was in the 60’s and 70’s when she took these photos, the time of the American dream and people who were a little bit different were in the shadows, these were the people she wanted show to the world. She photographed her subjects with authenticity. She made her subjects be seen to the world for people who may never have encountered such people before.

She also portrayed “normal” people in a manner that exposed the cracks in their public masks. She captured their feelings even though they wore “masks”.

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

In July 26 1971 Diane took her own life by ingesting barbiturates and cutting her own wrists.

Once she said ” A photograph is a secret about a secret, the more it tells you the lest you know”.

Here are my 10 favourite photos of hers.

Jewish giant at home with his parents in the Bronx/NY 1970


Russian midget friends in a living room on 100th street NYC 1963.

She convinced her subject to invite her into theirs homes


Identical twins, Roselle, N.Y., 1967.

She took this photo at a Christmas party which was set up for twins and triplets. No-one really knows how Diane found this party but of course she was always looking for the unusual kind of images. What I really like about the photo is that you assume that the twins are identical but the more you look at the photo you see they are not identical, they have their own personality.

This photo is the most known photo of hers and inspired a lot of artists such as

Stanley Kubrick, he used this image of the twin girls in a movie based on the book of Stephen King “The Shining”. One of my favourite books of his.


Lady Bartender at Home with a Souvenir Dog, New Orleans L.A. 1964


A woman with a cigarette.


Woman with a veil on the fish avenue New York, 1968


Mrs. T. Charlton Henry, fashion luminary, inn her Chestnut Hill home in Philadelphia, Harper’s Bazaar, July 1965


A young Man in curlers at home on West 20th street NYC 1966


Child with a toy hand grenade in Central Park.


Diane Arbus

St.Martin,Marigot 22 June 2021


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