INSPIRATION: The Wonderfully Odd Photography of Diane Arbus

Diane Arbus

Diane Arbus (March 14, 1923 – July 26, 1971) was an American photographer and writer noted for black-and-white square photographs of “deviant and marginal people (dwarfs, giants, transvestites, nudists, circus performers) or of people whose normality seems ugly or surreal.” A friend said that Arbus said that she was “afraid… that she would be known simply as ‘the photographer of freaks'”; however, that phrase has been used repeatedly to describe her.

In 1972, a year after she committed suicide, Arbus became the first American photographer to have photographs displayed at the Venice Biennale. Millions of people viewed traveling exhibitions of her work in 1972–1979. In 2003–2006, Arbus and her work were the subjects of another major traveling exhibition, Diane Arbus Revelations. In 2006, the motion picture Fur, starring Nicole Kidman as Arbus, presented a fictional version of her life story.

Child with a Toy Hand Grenade in Central Park, N.Y.C. (1963)

Puerto Rican Woman with a Beauty Mark, N.Y.C. (1965)

Triplets in their Bedroom, N.J. (1963)

A Flower Girl at a Wedding, Conn. (1964)

The King and Queen of a Senior Citizens Dance, N.Y.C. (1970)

Watch the documentary below to get a greater sense of Diane Arbus and her photography in her own words:





Are you familiar with Diane Arbus’ work? Do you have a favourite photo?

Rose Lagacé | @artdepartmental

Source: ‘Diane Arbus: An Aperture Monograph’ by Doon Arbus and the Estate of Diane Arbus (1972), and Wikipedia .

Posted by Rose Lagacé

Rose Lagacé is a production designer for film & television by day and an emerging filmmaker by night. Rose is also the creator and editor of Art Departmental where she celebrates the art and craft of production design.

  1. I absolutely love that bbc doc – it’s incredible. I’ve watched it a few times because by the time I got to the end I needed to rewatch a few interviews in the beginning since it’s so long!
    Diane Arbus is great – her stuff is really brilliant. I don’t have that sort of courage with people – I rather photograph the built environment.

    Did you see the interview with the grenade kid? It’s interesting to see him decades later, talking about that moment.

    – agata.

    thanks for visiting today!


  2. I love her photographs – so hard to pin point a favorite, she just captures so much character in a single frame and just draws you in.


  3. berlin-artparasites just reviewed the current Diane Arbus in Berlin. It is a must-see! Read our review here:


  4. I just read a biography of Diane, very inspirational person and one of the best photographers ever;


  5. […] INSPIRATION: The Wonderfully Odd Photography of Diane Arbus Art Departmental accessed March 2015 […]


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