Arbus, Diane

orig. Diane Nemerov

born March 14, 1923, New York, N.Y., U.S.
died July 26, 1971, New York City

U.S. photographer.

The sister of the poet and critic Howard Nemerov, she worked as a fashion photographer in the 1950s. From about 1955 to 1957 she studied with documentary photographer Lisette Model. She published her first photo-essay, for Esquire, in 1960. In the 1960s she began to explore the subjects that would occupy her for much of her career: individuals living on the outskirts of society and "normalcy," such as nudists, transvestites, dwarfs, and the mentally or physically handicapped. Her own evident intimacy with the subjects of her photos resulted in images that engage the sympathy and collusion of the viewer and elicit a strong response. During this period she mastered her technique of using a square format and flash lighting, which gives her work a sense of theatricality and surrealism. In 1971 Arbus committed suicide.

* * *

▪ American photographer
original name  Diane Nemerov 
born March 14, 1923, New York, New York, U.S.
died July 26, 1971, New York City

      American photographer, best known for her compelling, often disturbing, portraits of people from the edges of society.

      Diane Nemerov was the daughter of Gertrude Russek and David Nemerov, proprietors of a department store. Her older brother was the poet and critic Howard Nemerov (Nemerov, Howard). At age 18 she married Allan Arbus (divorced 1969), an employee at her family's store. Before separating, they worked collaboratively, first taking photographs and creating advertisements for the store, then creating commercial fashion photography for Harper's Bazaar, Show, Esquire, Glamour, The New York Times, and Vogue.

      After taking a brief photography course with Berenice Abbott (Abbott, Berenice), Arbus met Lisette Model (Model, Lisette), an Austrian-born documentary photographer, and studied with her from about 1955 to 1957. With Model's encouragement Arbus gave up commercial work to concentrate on fine-art photography. In 1960 Esquire published Arbus's first photo-essay, in which she effectively juxtaposed privilege and squalor in New York City. Thereafter she made a living as a freelance photographer and photography instructor.

      In 1963 and 1966 Arbus received Guggenheim fellowships to be part of a project titled “American Rites, Manners, and Customs.” During this period she mastered her technique of using a square format, which emphasizes the subject more than the photograph's composition. She also used flash lighting, which gives her work a sense of theatricality and surrealism. She began at that time to explore the subjects that would occupy her for much of her career: individuals living on the outskirts of society and “normalcy,” such as nudists, transvestites, dwarfs, and the mentally or physically handicapped. Her own evident intimacy with the extraordinary subjects of her photos resulted in images that engage the sympathy and collusion of the viewer and elicit a strong response. Some critics saw her work as remarkably empathetic to its subjects, while others were disturbed by what they saw as a harsh, voyeuristic look into the lives of the disadvantaged.

      In 1971 Arbus committed suicide. A collection of her photos was published in 1972 in connection with a successful major exhibition of her work at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. That same year her work was shown at the Venice Biennale, marking the first time that an American photographer received that distinction. In 2003 an extensive exhibition of her work opened at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and later traveled throughout the United States and Europe. An accompanying book, Diane Arbus Revelations (2003), contained some 200 photographs as well as excerpts from her letters and notebooks. In 2007 Arbus's estate gifted her complete archives—including photographic equipment, diary pages, and the negatives of some 7,500 rolls of film—to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

Additional Reading
Patricia Bosworth, Diane Arbus: A Biography (1984, reissued 1995); Doon Arbus and Marvin Israel (eds.), Diane Arbus, Magazine Work (1984, reissued 1992).

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • ARBUS, DIANE — (1923–1971), U.S. photographer. The photographer of provocative and unsettling portraits was born in New York to a wealthy Jewish family. Her father, David Nemerov, the son of Russian immigrants, took over Russek s Fur Store owned by his father… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Arbus, Diane — orig. Diane Nemerov (14 mar. 1923, Nueva York, N.Y., EE.UU.–26 jul. 1971, Nueva York). Fotógrafa estadounidense. Hermana del poeta y crítico Howard Nemerov. Trabajó como fotógrafa de modas en la década de 1950. De 1955 a 1957 estudió con la… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Arbus,Diane — Ar·bus (ärʹbəs), Diane. 1923 1971. American photographer best known for her portraits of prostitutes, transvestites, persons with physical deformities, and other unconventional subjects. * * * …   Universalium

  • Diane Arbus — Photograph of Diane Arbus by Allan Arbus (a film test), c. 1949[1]:137 Birth name …   Wikipedia

  • Diane Arbus — (* 14. März 1923 in New York; † 26. Juli 1971 in Greenwich Village, New York) war eine amerikanische Fotografin und Fotojournalistin russisch jüdischer Abstammung. Arbus wurde vornehmlich durch ihre Fotoreportagen für namhafte US Magazine bekannt …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • ARBUS (D.) — ARBUS DIANE (1923 1971) Par la force des «sujets» dont elle tire des portraits, par l’effet d’«inquiétante étrangeté» de son style, par sa cohérence intellectuelle et émotionnelle, Diane Arbus est sans conteste une grande figure de la… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Diane — [dī an′] n. a feminine name: dim. Di; var. Dianne: see DIANA * * * (as used in expressions) Arbus Diane Diane Nemerov Hillary Diane Rodham Di Prima Diane Diane de France duchess de Montmorency and Angoulême Diane de Poitiers duchess de… …   Universalium

  • Diane — Diana (Variationen: Diyana, Diane, Dian, Dana, Dejana, Dijana, Dajana oder Dayana) ist ein weiblicher Vorname. Porträt eines jungen Mädchens als Diana, von Abraham Lambertsz. van den Tempel …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Diane — (as used in expressions) Arbus, Diane Diane Nemerov Hillary Diane Rodham Di Prima, Diane Keaton, Diane Diane Hall …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Diane Arbus — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Diane Arbus (Nueva York, 14 de marzo de 1923 Greenwich, Nueva York, 26 de julio de 1971) fue una fotógrafa estadounidense. Contenido 1 Biografía 2 Su obra …   Wikipedia Español

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.