Diane Arbus Revelations

Diane Arbus Revelations

By Doon Arbus; Diane Arbus

Random House, Hardcover, 9780375506208, 352pp.

Publication Date: September 30, 2003


Diane Arbus redefined the concerns and the range of the art she practiced. Her bold subject matter and photographic approach have established her preeminence in the world of the visual arts. Her gift for rendering strange those things we consider most familiar, and uncovering the familiar within the exotic, enlarges our understanding of ourselves.

Diane Arbus Revelations affords the first opportunity to explore the origins, scope, and aspirations of what is a wholly original force in photography. Arbus’s frank treatment of her subjects and her faith in the intrinsic power of the medium have produced a body of work that is often shocking in its purity, in its steadfast celebration of things as they are. Presenting many of her lesser-known or previously unpublished photographs in the context of the iconic images reveals a subtle yet persistent view of the world.

The book reproduces two hundred full-page duotones of Diane Arbus photographs spanning her entire career, many of them never before seen. It also includes an essay, “The Question of Belief,” by Sandra S. Phillips, senior curator of photography at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and “In the Darkroom,” a discussion of Arbus’s printing techniques by Neil Selkirk, the only person authorized to print her photographs since her death. A 104-page Chronology by Elisabeth Sussman, guest curator of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art show, and Doon Arbus, the artist’s eldest daughter, illustrated by more than three hundred additional images and composed mainly of previously unpublished excerpts from the artist’s letters, notebooks, and other writings, amounts to a kind of autobiography. An Afterword by Doon Arbus precedes biographical entries on the photographer’s friends and colleagues by Jeff L. Rosenheim, associate curator of photographs at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. These texts help illuminate the meaning of Diane Arbus’s controversial and astonishing vision.

About the Author
RICHARD AVEDON (b. 1923) was the editor, with his classmate James Baldwin, of "The Magpie, the literary magazine at De Witt Clinton High School in the Bronx. In 1942 he joined the photography department of the U.S. merchant marine. He was a staff photographer at I>Harper's Bazaar (1951-1965) and "Vogue (1966-1988), and he collaborated with James Baldwin on "Nothing Personal (1964), a book about the civil rights movement. In 1992 he became the first staff photographer at "The New Yorker.
DOON ARBUS (b. 1945) is the author of "Alice in Wonderland: The Forming of a Company, the Making of a Play, and has written for a number of magazines, including "Rolling Stone and "The Nation. Her thirty-year collaboration with Richard Avedon began with the project that has become this book. She is completing her "Unfinished Novel.

During a relatively brief career, Diane Arbus created a distinctly personal style of portraiture that made her one of the great 20th-century photographers. Born in New York in 1923, by the 1950s she was supporting herself by working for magazines such as "Vogue" and "Glamour". Two Guggenheim awards (1963 and 1966) allowed her to travel and undertake her own projects. The artist died in 1971. Retrospectives of her work have been shown at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.