Exhibition

diane arbus

in the beginning

January 21–April 30, 2017

Floor 3

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diane arbus: in the beginning considers the first seven years of the photographer’s career, from 1956 to 1962. A lifelong New Yorker, Arbus found the city and its citizens an endlessly rich subject for her art. Working in Times Square, the Lower East Side, and Coney Island, she made some of the most powerful portraits of the twentieth century, training her lens on the pedestrians and performers she encountered there. This exhibition highlights her early and enduring interest in the subject matter that would come to define her as an artist. It also reveals the artist’s evolution from a 35mm format to the now instantly recognizable and widely imitated look of the square format she adopted in 1962. Bringing together over 100 photographs from this formative period, many on display for the first time, diane arbus: in the beginning offers fresh insights into the distinctive vision of this iconic American photographer.


Exhibition Preview

Jack Dracula at a bar, New London, Conn. 1961; promised gift of Doon Arbus and Amy Arbus, 2007; courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York / copyright © The Estate of Diane Arbus, LLC; all rights reserved
Woman with white gloves and a pocket book, N.Y.C. 1956; collection of Jennifer and Philip Maritz; courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York / copyright © The Estate of Diane Arbus, LLC; all rights reserved
Fire Eater at a carnival, Palisades Park, N.J. 1957; gift of Danielle and David Ganek, 2005;
courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York / copyright © The Estate of Diane Arbus, LLC; all rights reserved
Lady on a bus, N.Y.C. 1957; gift of Danielle and David Ganek, 2005; courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York / copyright © The Estate of Diane Arbus, LLC; all rights reserved
Female impersonator holding long gloves, Hempstead, L.I. 1959; purchase, Joyce F. Menschel Gift, 2015; courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York / copyright © The Estate of Diane Arbus, LLC; all rights reserved
Man in hat, trunks, socks and shoes, Coney Island, N.Y. 1960; promised gift of Doon Arbus and Amy Arbus, 2007; courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York / copyright © The Estate of Diane Arbus, LLC; all rights reserved
Stripper with bare breasts sitting in her dressing room, Atlantic City, N.J. 1961; purchase, Jade Lau Gift, 2015; courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York / copyright © The Estate of Diane Arbus, LLC; all rights reserved


This exhibition was organized by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Major support for diane arbus: in the beginning is provided by Lisa and John Pritzker. Generous support is provided by Randi and Bob Fisher and Sheri and Paul Siegel.

Header image: Katherine Du Tiel