Diane Arbus: Portrait of a Photographer

Diane Arbus: Portrait of a Photographer

by Arthur Lubow
Diane Arbus: Portrait of a Photographer

Diane Arbus: Portrait of a Photographer

by Arthur Lubow


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The definitive biography of the beguiling Diane Arbus, one of the most influential and important photographers of the twentieth century, a brilliant and absorbing exposition that links the extraordinary arc of her life to her iconic photographs

Diane Arbus: Portrait of a Photographer brings into focus with vividness and immediacy one of the great American artists of the twentieth century. Arbus comes startlingly to life on these pages, a strong-minded child of disconcerting originality who grew into a formidable photographer of unflinching courage. Arbus forged an intimacy with her subjects that has inspired generations of artists. Arresting, unsettling, and poignant, her photographs stick in our minds. Why did these people fascinate her? And what was it about her that captivated them?

It is impossible to understand the transfixing power of Arbus’s photographs without exploring her life. Lubow draws on exclusive interviews with Arbus’s friends, lovers, and colleagues; on previously unknown letters; and on his own profound critical insights into photography to explore Arbus’s unique perspective and to reveal important aspects of her life that were previously unknown or unsubstantiated. He deftly traces Arbus’s development from a wealthy, sexually precocious free spirit into first, a successful New York fashion photographer and then, a singular artist who coaxed secrets from her subjects. Lubow reveals that Arbus’s profound need not only to see her subjects but to be seen by them drove her to forge unusually close bonds with these people, helping her discover the fantasies, pain, and heroism within each of them, and leading her to create a new kind of photographic portraiture charged with an unnerving complicity between the subject and the viewer.

Diane Arbus: Portrait of a Photographer brushes aside the clichés that have long surrounded Arbus and her work. It is a magnificently absorbing biography of this unique, hugely influential artist.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062234322
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 06/07/2016
Pages: 752
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.60(d)

About the Author

Arthur Lubow has been a contributing writer at The New York Times Magazine, a staff writer at The New Yorker, and a contributing editor at Vanity Fair. He received a Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman fellowship, a National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship, and a James Beard Award, and is a fellow of the New York Institute for the Humanities.

Table of Contents

Photographs Discussed in the Text xiii

Part 1 A Daughter, a Wife, and a Mother

1 The Decisive Moment 3

2 Stage-Set French 7

3 Them Against the World 15

4 Mysterious, but Not Blurry 21

5 Enter Allan 29

6 A Friendly-Looking Beard 33

7 Weddings 39

8 Living, Breathing Photography 45

9 Floating Weightless and Brilliant 51

10 Doon Is Born 57

11 Mr. and Mrs. Inc. 63

12 A Mystical Friendship 71

13 A Long-Awaited Consummation 77

14 Central Park Prophecy 85

Part 2 Breaking Away

15 Out the Prison Door 93

16 Hermitage Seductions 99

17 A Spanish Impasse 107

18 Italian Street Photographer 115

19 Modish and Empty 123

20 Circus 131

21 Out of Fashion 137

22 Finding Her Spot 145

23 Raincoat in Central Park 151

24 A Tiny Woman with a Grand Manner 157

25 What She Learned 167

26 Notes of Unhappiness 173

27 Losing Herself 181

Part 3 Becoming a Photographer

28 The Ground Was Shifting 189

29 Buy Amy's Present, Go to the Morgue 197

30 A Mephistopheles, a Svengali, a Rasputin 207

31 A Manual of Facial Types 215

32 The Weeping Clown and Fearless Tightrope Walker 221

33 The Bizarre and the Chic at Bazaar 231

34 Freak Show 241

35 Punchy New Journalism 249

36 Silver Spoon 259

37 Forlorn and Angry Children 265

38 Self-Created Women 271

39 Tinseltown 279

Part 2 Knowing People in an Almost Biblical Sense

40 A Fantastically Honest Photographer 289

41 Is the Jewish Couple Happy? 297

42 And Then You're a Nudist 303

43 It's Not Like You're Acting 309

44 To Know People, Almost in a Biblical Sense 317

45 An Element of Torture 325

46 People on Plinths 333

47 Teaching Younger People 339

48 This Is the Whole Secret 345

49 Mysteries of Sex 351

50 I Think We Should Tell You, We're Men 357

51 Nancy and Pati in Middle Age 365

52 Each with a Tiny Difference 373

Part 5 The Crystal-Clear Vision of a Poet

53 Desperate to Be Famous 381

54 Peace and Love 393

55 An English Connection 401

56 The Heart of the Maelstrom 407

57 Fantasy Made Actual 417

58 A Family on Their Lawn in Westchester 421

59 A Frightful Zombie 429

60 An Ideal Woman 435

61 A Political Year 441

62 Flatland 447

63 Swinging London 453

Part 6 Happy Even Though they Don't Have Anything

64 Asylum 465

65 Art and Money 473

66 Fantastic and Real 481

67 A Dowsing Rod for Anguish 489

68 Wild Dynamics 497

69 An Urban Palace 505

70 A Modern-Day Ingres 511

71 The Mexican Dwarf and the Jewish Giant 517

Part 7 Heartbreaking and Dizzying

72 Almost Like Ice 527

73 Storms 535

74 It's All Chemical 541

75 Old Photographs, New Camera 545

76 Blood 551

77 Aging 557

78 Song and Dance 561

79 "Love" 567

80 A Woman Passing 573

81 You Can't Come In 581

82 Loose Ends 585

83 Like Hamlet and Medea 589

84 Runes 595

85 Things That Nobody Would See 603

Sources and Acknowledgments 613

Notes 619

Index 717

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