INSPIRATION: The Wonderfully Odd Lens of Photographer Diane Arbus

Photographer Diane Arbus was one of the finest artists of her generation casting her lens on working-class weirdoes, human anomalies, and what some might call ‘freaks’. Diane Arbus photography is lauded for her stylised yet naturalistic look at strange sights.

Photographer Diane Arbus

Diane Arbus

Who was Photographer Diane Arbus?

Photographer Diane Arbus was born March 14, 1923 and sadly died July 26, 1971. The American photographer and writer was 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 her photographs displayed at the Venice Biennale. Millions of people viewed travelling exhibitions of her work in 1972–1979.

In 2003–2006, Arbus and her work were the subjects of another major travelling exhibition, Diane Arbus Revelations.

In 2006, the motion picture Fur, starring Nicole Kidman as Arbus, presented a fictional version of her life story.

A Look at the Style of Diane Arbus Photography

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)

Photographer Diane Arbus Documentary

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

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

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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