Saturday, July 16, 2016

The Cost of Diane Arbus

Was Diane Arbus the Most Radical Photographer of the 20th Century? A new biography and Met exhibit show how she sacrificed her marriage, her friendships, and eventually her life for her career as an artist living on the edge. -Alex Mar NYMagazine
Double Self-Portrait With Infant Daughter (1945)
"I was surprised, in looking closely at her work again, by how much of it is about age, the young straining to be adults and adults gripping the relics of their younger selves: preteens competing at ballroom dancing, a little boy with his toy gun drawn, an older woman in her prettiest “negligee.” It’s as if the physical contortions and costumes that this requires were as “freakish” as those of the professional freaks she gravitated toward, as if we were all victims of so much learned behavior. In a note to Israel, Diane writes of a day spent observing people on the street and finding them “all odd and splendid as freaks and nobody able to see himself, all of us victims of the especial shape we come in.” Her images show us, again and again, people striving to become what the viewer knows they will never be — a phenomenon she famously described as “the gap between intention and effect.” Diane recognized that the official freaks, the permanent outsiders, have a self-awareness most of us don’t possess. They know they are destined to lose the game of public appearances."