Tiny Tim, c.1966 (plaid jacket, 11 frames)
© Diane Arbus
Vintage contact sheet
"...Freaks was a thing I photographed a lot. It was one of the first things I photographed and it had a terrific kind of excitement for me. I just used to adore them. I still do adore some of them. I don't quite mean they're my best friends but they made me feel a mixture of shame and awe. There's a quality of legend about freaks. Like a person in a fairy tale who stops you and demands that you answer a riddle. Most people go through life dreading they'll have a traumatic experience. Freaks were born with their trauma. They've already passed their test in life. They're aristocrats..." — Diane Arbus
Born in New York City in March of 1923, Diane Arbus grew up in Central Park West. Supporting the family was her father, who owned a 5th Avenue department store. At the age of 14, Arbus met her future husband Allan Arbus, who she would marry in four years. Both Allan and Diane worked in the fashion industry as photographers. A great deal of Arbus' most memorable images comes from her innovative work in magazines. As profit was a primary pursuit for an un-established photographer, Arbus' work in magazines was both artistically striking and economically productive. Her commercial photography is highlighted in the Aperture book entitled, Diane Arbus: Magazine Work
Arbus' artistic career initiated in 1959 when she began studying photography with Lissete Model. With her new and innovative style, Diane received the Guggenheim fellowship in 1963 as well as in '66. A year after her first fellowship, her work was recognized by John Szarkowski who formed Arbus' first exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art. As Arbus' career progressed, a portfolio of 10 photographs was made in 1970 that created her first series of limited editions. While at the top of Diane's progression in the art world and her ongoing exploration of the limits of photographic art, her career came to a sad end after her suicide on July 26th, 1971.
Arbus' work impacts the photography world with a sharp attack on the boundaries of what is considered to be "proper" or "tasteful" art. In 1972, Diane Arbus was the first American photographer to be exhibited at the Venice Biennale.
A major retrospective of Arbus' work was held in London at the V&A Museum in October 2005 direct from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.