diane arbus: in the beginning at The Met Breuer

A preview of the exhibition diane arbus: in the beginning, on view at The Met Breuer from July 12 through November 27, 2016.

This landmark exhibition will feature more than 100 photographs that together redefine Diane Arbus (American, 1923–1971), one of the most influential and provocative artists of the 20th century. The majority of the photographs in the exhibition have never before been seen and are part of The Met's Diane Arbus Archive.

Featuring Jeff Rosenheim, Curator in Charge, Department of Photographs


Jeff Rosenheim: diane arbus: in the beginning is the first time that the public will ever see rare pictures from the beginnings of her career. Nobody could do this exhibition but the Metropolitan Museum; we have her archive, her papers, and hundreds of her photographs.

We're looking at 1956 to 1962 made primarily in New York City, from Times Square to Coney Island to the Lower East Side. The same terrain that so many artists of the era covered offered this artist a new way of understanding who we are and who we might be. You feel the authentic quality of each of the individuals.

All of these prints were made by the artist. They're small. They're intimate. She loved the way the light wrapped around figures. There's a poetics of the light. There's a kind of warm embrace of it. She seems to be able to separate the individual from the society.

That is the power of a great Diane Arbus picture. That incessant need to know and to record and to follow her own eyes to wherever it took her is defining of her career. I think people will see that the artist had explored all of the same issues, all of the same poetics, and the intensity of experience that you know from a Diane Arbus photograph was in play at the very beginning.

All works © The Estate of Diane Arbus, L.L.C. All rights reserved.

Director: Christopher Noey
Producer: Kate Farrell
Editor: Stephanie Wuertz
Camera: Sarah Cowan, Dia Felix, Stephanie Wuertz
Production Coordinator: Lisa Rifkind
Music: Austin Fisher
Graphics: Anna Rieger, Natasha Mileshina

© 2016 The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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