Because photography touches most everything, our topics have been far-ranging — from the environment, cyberbullying and immigration to race, gender and class. We have written about famed photographers like Dorothea Lange, Gordon Parks and Diane Arbus as well as emerging image makers like Citlali Fabián, Fethi Sahraoui, Daniel Edwards and Mengwen Cao. And we have written about the need for more diverse storytellers to help us better understand the world we live in.
Diane Arbus’s portfolio “A Box of Ten Photographs” was pivotal in the acceptance of photography by the art world. A book published by Aperture and the Smithsonian American Art Museum examines the portfolio and its impact.
The story Diane Arbus told with her camera was about shape-shifting: in order to understand difference one had to not only not dismiss it, but try to become it. “I don’t like to arrange things,” she once said. “If I stand in front of something, instead of
Both he and Arbus used the word “freaks” to describe their subjects (a word I found disparaging and objected to, albeit silently in his presence). But Arbus’s subjects were unlike Mitchell’s: her photographs showed them pursuing their otherness with a fierce velocity that had little in common with his ultimately more assimilated characters, seen through the skein of his elegant and sometimes ironical prose.
A biography of Diane Arbus links her charged imagery to an often fraught personal life.
Arbus is possibly the closest thing America has to Kafka, a profound ironist who simply did not see the world in conventional terms and was — when you strip away the nice-making, the wheedling for money or support and the expressions of garden- variety depression — incapable of saying anything uncompelling
This account of Arbus’s life, while not skimping on sordid details, demonstrates the defects and virtues of consummate professionalism.
Arthur Lubow’s new “Diane Arbus: Portrait of a Photographer” is the second major biography of this complicated and controversial artist, after Patricia Bosworth’s “Diane Arbus: A Biography,” published in 1984. Both books pull you into a scenic and moral underworld. The details of Arbus’s troubled life cast a spell.
The principal issue raised by the remarkable photographs of Diane Arbus seems not to be their remarkableness, which few would dispute, but their morality. The very potency of her images, their dangerous, disturbing allure, demands an almost instantaneous moral judgement on the part of the viewer. Her pictures call forth an immediate stance which, it would seem, just cannot remain equivocal, yet which in many cases is tinged with uneasy contradiction. To some, Arbus is seen as the prime exemplar of the fundamental baseness of the photographic act, that act which caters ineffably to the disinterested voyeur lurking in us all. Others laud her for her compassion and her humanity, finding in her work an empathy with a disadvantaged subject matter to rival that of Riis, or Hine, or any of the great photographic humanists.
The thin dividing line between photographic observation and intrusion is examined in a challenging and disturbing exhibition at Tate Modern, writes Sean O'Hagan
"Photography," Diane Arbus once said, "was a licence to go wherever I wanted and to do what I wanted to do." Arbus, who famously photographed American outsiders and eccentrics, including so-called freaks from carnival shows, also described the lure of the camera thus: "I always thought of photography as a naughty thing to do... when I first did it I felt very perverse."
A Visual Chronicler of Humanity's Underbelly, Draped in a Pelt of Perversity
The new film “Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus” is a fantasy of a different order. Its marble-white Venus is Nicole Kidman, who here wears a conceit rather than a sable. The film’s core idea is that Diane Arbus, who trained her photographic gaze on nudists, twins, grimacing children and the retarded, liberated her muse by coaxing out her inner freak. The film conjures a conduit to her liberation in the furry form of Lionel, a neighbor played by Robert Downey Jr. The actor’s involvement is something you need to take on faith, since he spends most of the film covered in fur, a costume that suggests the bewitched prince in Cocteau’s “Beauty and the Beast” and makes Mr. Downey look like an immaculately groomed Shih Tzu.
“Fur” is a folly, though not a dishonorable one. It was directed by Steven Shainberg, whose last feature, “Secretary,” was a tender love story about a shy masochist and the boss who spanks his way into her heart. The film was funny and modest, and it treated the putative perversions of its characters with the kind of good, gracious humor that insists on respect for everyone involved. “Fur” is a more ambitious work, in part because of Ms. Kidman, whose talent cannot obscure that she has been grievously miscast and left to indulge her mannered coyness. Here.