DIANE ARBUS (American, 1923 – 1971)

Born Diane Nemerov in New York City in 1923, Arbus was educated at Ethical Culture School and Feldston School in New York. Arbus was married at 18 and, with the help of her husband, Allen, she became a successful fashion photographer. In the late 1950s, after nearly twenty years of a conventional career, Arbus studied photography with Lisette Model, who encouraged Arbus' unorthodox world vision. "Arbus found unsettling oddities of lifestyle and personality among ‘normal’ people as often as she did among those who are defined by society as deviates." 

Throughout the ten years that Arbus photographed her subjects, she produced a compelling and controversial body of work that includes images of children, nudists, midgets, carnival performers, twins, and inmates at a home for retarded women. Arbus was Instructor of Photography at Parsons School of Design from 1965 to 1966, at Cooper Union from 1968 to 1969, and at Rhode Island School of Design from 1970 to 1971. Arbus received the Guggenheim Fellowship in 1963 and 1966 and the Robert Leavitt Award in 1970. In June 1971, she committed suicide in New York City.

Selected Collections:

Museum of Modern Art, New York City, NY

International Museum of Photography, George Eastman House, Rochester, NY

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA

Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minneapolis, MN

New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans, LA

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX

Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ

National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Canada

Bibliothéque Nationale, Paris, France