Diane Arbus - Photographer of Oddity

Ah, the exhibitions we just don't see in this country!  The Met in New York is staging an exhibition of the photography of Diane Arbus.

Born into a wealthy family, Arbus was fascinated by poverty and oddity.  “I love to go to people’s houses,” Diane Arbus once told a reporter, “exploring — doing daring things I’ve not done before.”   She was brilliant at school, sexually precocious and married young.  In the 1950's Arbus was shooting for a fashion magazine, a job she began to loathe - drawn as she was to the "flawed and unusual".

 The Jewish Giant

The Jewish Giant

A biographer described Arbus as being adventurous, charismatic and always taking terrible risks.  Norman Mailer described giving Arbus a camera "was like putting a live grenade in the hands of a child.”

 This image of identical twins so haunted Stanley Kubrick that he had to include something like it in his movie The Shining.

This image of identical twins so haunted Stanley Kubrick that he had to include something like it in his movie The Shining.

Some found her images ungainly, freakish even brutal but Arbus responded by saying these people wanted to have their photo taken - they liked being paid attention to.

Arbus had two daughters by her marriage, which ended in 1959.  In later years, ill health, loneliness and depression got the better of her, especially after her daughters left home. “My work doesn’t do it for me anymore,” she told a friend.  She committed suicide in 1971, aged 48.