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Major Gift of Diane Arbus Photographs Promised to The Metropolitan Museum of Art

(New York, February 17, 2004)--An important group of photographs by Diane Arbus, one of the most original and influential photographers of the last half-century, will join the collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art as the promised gift of collectors Danielle and David Ganek. The 13 rare, vintage prints represent one of the most significant acquisitions of 20th-century photography in the history of the Metropolitan and more than double the Museum's holdings of works by the artist.

All of the prints were made by Diane Arbus and were acquired directly from the Estate of Diane Arbus by Mr. and Mrs. David Ganek. The selection—which includes superb examples of such signature images as A young waitress at a nudist camp, N.J. (1963), A family on their lawn one Sunday in Westchester, N.Y. (1968), and A Jewish giant at home with his parents in the Bronx, N.Y. (1970)—was made by Jeff L. Rosenheim, Associate Curator in the Metropolitan's Department of Photographs.

The suite of photographs complements the Museum's existing collection and includes two early images that reveal Arbus's considerable achievement with the camera years before her distinguished work of the 1960s. Lady on a bus, N.Y.C., 1956, and Fire eater at the carnival, Palisades Park, N.J., 1956 feature the idiosyncratic choice of subjects and the incisive documentary approach found in all of Arbus's photography.

Philippe de Montebello, Director of the Metropolitan Museum, stated, "We are extremely grateful to Mr. and Mrs. Ganek for this extraordinary act of generous and enlightened philanthropy. We are also grateful to the Estate of Diane Arbus for its central role in a collaborative enterprise that was intended, by all parties, to ensure that these iconic works would find a permanent home at the Metropolitan."

A pivotal figure in the history of photography, Diane Arbus (1923-1971) made lacerating, matter-of-fact images of the normal and the marginal in American society that have forever altered our expectations of photographic portraits. Most of her subjects were found in and around New York City, where she was born and lived until her death by suicide at the age of 48. Despite the brevity of her career, Arbus achieved an international reputation. In 1972, she became, posthumously, the first American photographer to be represented in the prestigious Venice Biennale. The same year New York's Museum of Modern Art mounted a major retrospective of her work that traveled throughout the United States and Canada.

Residents of Greenwich, Connecticut, Danielle and David Ganek are avid collectors of painting, sculpture, photography, and video of the 1960s to the present. Mr. Ganek is a money manager and Mrs. Ganek is a writer. Commenting on the gift, Mr. Ganek observed, "As collectors of contemporary art, Danielle and I have the deepest admiration for Diane Arbus's groundbreaking achievements in the art of portraiture, which have profoundly influenced many of today's most important artists. We felt humbled by the opportunity to acquire these works on behalf of the Metropolitan."

Six of the 13 works in the promised gift to the Metropolitan are currently part of a major, touring retrospective, Diane Arbus Revelations, organized by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, where it was on view from October 25 through February 8, 2004. The exhibition will be shown at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art from February 29 through May 30, 2004, after which it will travel to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and then to the Metropolitan Museum in February 2005.

A checklist of the works in the promised gift follows.

Danielle and David Ganek
Promised Gift of Photographs by Diane Arbus
to The Metropolitan Museum of Art

All works are by Diane Arbus (1923-1971)

Lady on a bus, N.Y.C., 1956
Fire eater at the carnival, Palisades Park, N.J., 1956
The Junior Interstate Ballroom Dance Champions, Yonkers, N.Y., 1963
A young waitress at a nudist camp, N.J., 1963
Teenage couple on Hudson Street, N.Y.C., 1963
Lady in a rooming house parlor, Albion, N.Y., 1963
Two friends at home, N.Y.C., 1965
A young Brooklyn family going for a Sunday outing, N.Y.C., 1966
A young man in curlers at home on West 20th Street, N.Y.C., 1966
Masked man at a ball, N.Y.C., 1967
Seated man in bra and stockings, N.Y.C., 1967
A family on their lawn one Sunday in Westchester, N.Y., 1968
A Jewish giant at home with his parents in the Bronx, N.Y., 1970

February 17, 2004

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