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Diane Arbus


This lecture will cover the background and portraits of Diane Arbus,  one of the most influential photographers of the 20th century.  She was based in NYC and was working at a time when photography was still only just becoming a recognized art form. Photography had mostly reached the public through magazines, which is how Arbus made a living. Arbus often photographed uncelebrated people whose professional, personal or physical attributes diverged from what was considered acceptable, like carnival entertainers, nudists, transvestites or giants. While many believe that her body of works is one big freak show given the characters that she photographed,  she forces us to rethink what is considered beautiful.  It is her empathy and inclusiveness towards those on the fringe of society that her fans find compelling. Arbus said, “The irony is that when I’m dead, my work will skyrocket in value,” It took very little time for America to prove Arbus right. Arbus committed suicide in 1971, at the age of 45. By November 1972, the Museum of Modern Art in New York had a retrospective of her works. She had only sold a handful of photos while alive, but interest to acquire her work grew exponentially postmortem.


Diane Arbus took photos of individuals on the fringe of society.  Perhaps today we live in a more inclusive world but that wasn't always the case.    We will explore her best known photographs as well as her early works.

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