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Exhibitions/ Diane Arbus: In the Beginning

Diane Arbus: In the Beginning

July 12–November 27, 2016

Exhibition Catalogue

This handsome volume—the definitive study of the artist's early work—reveals the genesis of her evocative imagery.

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Exhibition Overview

This landmark exhibition features more than 100 photographs that together redefine Diane Arbus (American, 1923–1971), one of the most influential and provocative artists of the 20th century. It focuses on the first seven years of her career, from 1956 to 1962, the period in which she developed the idiosyncratic style and approach for which she has been recognized praised, criticized, and copied the world over.

Arbus made most of her photographs in New York City, where she lived and died, and where she worked in locations such as Times Square, the Lower East Side, and Coney Island. Her photographs of children and eccentrics, couples and circus performers, female impersonators and Fifth Avenue pedestrians are among the most intimate and surprising images of the era.

The majority of the photographs in the exhibition have never before been seen and are part of the Museum's Diane Arbus Archive, acquired in 2007 by gift and promised gift from the artist's daughters, Doon Arbus and Amy Arbus. It was only when the archive came to The Met that this remarkable early work came to be fully explored. Arbus's creative life in photography after 1962 is well documented and already the stuff of legend; now, for the first time, we can properly examine its origins.


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The exhibition is made possible by the Alfred Stieglitz Society.

Additional support is provided by The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation and the Art Mentor Foundation Lucerne.

Diane Arbus (American, 1923–1971). Lady on a Bus, N.Y.C. (detail), 1957. Gelatin silver print; 8 1/2 x 5 3/4 in. (21.6 x 14.6 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of Danielle and David Ganek, 2005 (2005.493.11). © The Estate of Diane Arbus