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Diane Arbus Revelations by Diane Arbus
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Diane Arbus Revelations

by Diane Arbus

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very interesting. the organization could have been better--maybe photos in chronological order. ( )
  mahallett | Sep 26, 2011 |
Diane Arbus was an amazing woman. Her work really makes me think, which, up to now, was a reaction I had never had to a photograph. I don't know anything about photography, I'd like to say that up front. All that follows is completely amateur speculation and analysis of a few pictures that made an impression on me.The first photograph that hit me was this one, which, due to the fact that it contains nudity, I am linking to rather than posting. Arbus went to lengths to incorporate the photographer into each of her pieces, refusing to do as others had done and try to pretend that the photograph was simply happening, that it was the only witness to the event in question. This piece, which is just one of many, focuses on capturing the image of sexuality. It is rather tame, but, I think, is the strongest of all its peers. Many of the other photographs are just of people tossing about on a bed, but this one adds more to the viewing experience.First off, the focus of this image is a young woman staring directly at the camera. She can see you as you're looking at her. She is also staring at the photographer, a person who seems so out of place in this context. And then you have the man sleeping on the bed who either doesn't care that all of this is happening or doesn't know it is. I don't know what I feel when I look at it, but there's most certainly a little embarrassment (like I accidentally walked into the wrong hotel room) and a little awe at witnessing the aftermath of this most natural of acts (but I can never forget that it has been captured by an unnatural means, rather than my own eye).This one, arguably her most famous piece, was the reason why I got this book in the first place. She did something with her camera that I had never seen done before. I look at this and my eyes automatically focus on the boy with the grenade. But it isn't the goofy face he's making or the political undertones of the work that get me, it's the technicality. I like how the background is blurred and seems rounded. It's like this kid is the center of everything, which is the treatment Arbus gave to all of her subjects. I actually don't like this one much, but I found it interesting that it was the inspiration for the twins in The Shining.I like this one because I like Diane Arbus. This is one of the self-portraits that was included in the book. I like looking into her face, examining it to see what makes her so different from everybody else. I can see it, but I cannot identify it.This book was wonderful to look through and I really appreciated the chronology of her life. I knew nothing about her and seeing her major life events all lined up was most helpful. The rest of the text was not, as I don't care about the technical aspects of the printing of her work posthumously and I didn't care for the "where are they now?" section for every other person mentioned in the chronology. Arbus had a tendency to explain her photographs when she showed them and I wish some of her explanations had been included. I know that the images are supposed to speak for themselves, but, as the book went on, I became more and more fond of Arbus as a person and just wanted more of her to be in it. She was a fantastic writer in her own right and her words should have graced the pages of this book, not the words of whoever the hell else contributed to it. ( )
  anoceandrowning | Jan 21, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375506209, Hardcover)

Muscle men, midgets, socialites, circus performers and asylum inmates: in the 1950s and '60s, photographer Diane Arbus (1923-1971) cast her strong eye on them all, capturing them as no one else could. Her documentary-style photos of society's margin-walkers were objective and reverential, while she often portrayed so-called normal people looking far more freakish than the freaks. Her powerful work was well-received in its day. Arbus received Guggenheim Fellowships in 1963 and 1966 and was included in a major show at MOMA in 1967. But her work entered the realm of near-myth after her 1971 suicide.

Posthumously cast as everything from patron saint of the underdog to a crass exploiter of the mentally challenged, Arbus has curiously never had a large retrospective until the show Revelations was organized by Arbus' family and SF MOMA. The accompanying catalogue is an oversized, sumptuous, beautifully printed tome. It includes all of the artist's iconic photographs as well as many that have never been publicly exhibited, including many pages of contact sheets, journal entries, and family snapshots. This work is so strong, it's mind-blowing. The giant in his apartment with his parents looks absolutely regal, his parents sad and confused. Are those crazy people always so happy? And what to make of this moment of extreme tenderness between a dominatrix and her client? This is a book worth hours of your time. --Mike McGonigal

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:42:17 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

"The book reproduces two hundred full-page duotones of Diane Arbus photographs spanning her entire career, many of them never before seen. It also includes an essay, "The Question of Belief," by Sandra S. Phillips, senior curator of photography at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and "In the Darkroom," a discussion of Arbus's printing techniques by Neil Selkirk, the only person authorized to print her photographs since her death. A 104-page Chronology by Elizabeth Sussman, guest curator of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art show, and Doon Arbus, the artist's eldest daughter, illustrated by more than three hundred additional images and composed mainly of previously unpublished excerpts from the artist's letters, notebooks, and other writings, amounts to a kind of autobiography. An Afterword by Doon Arbus precedes biographical entries on the photographer's friends and colleagues by Jeff I. Rosenheim, associate curator of photographs at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. These texts help illuminate the meaning of Diane Arbus's controversial and astonishing vision."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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