p.p1 at a young age. Diane was born to

Topic: ArtPhotography
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Last updated: July 6, 2019


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s1 {font-kerning: none}span.s2 {font-kerning: none; color: #232323; -webkit-text-stroke: 0px #232323}Born in the heart of the city that never sleeps, Diane Arbus was born in New York City on March 14th, 1923. Her maiden name was Nemerov, Diane had sparked her interest in the arts at a young age. Diane was born to David Nemerov and Gertrude Russek Nemerov, they were two wealthy jewish people during the time of the Great Depression. Due to their wealth, Diane was unaffected by the great depression and could really focus on her art. In just high school, she was credited with many paintings and “interesting” drawings.

This word “interesting” comes up often when discussing the work of Diane Arbus. Diane’s work tended to push social boundaries and beautify things society believed to be ugly or abnormal. Diane married Allan Arbuse in 1941 and it was then, that her passion for photography began to flourish. Allan taught Diane about photography and mentored her throughout her career as a photographer. In fact, on their honeymoon, Allan gave Diane her first camera. Many people of Diane’s time would call her work controversial.

She truly stood out in the crowd of photographers. Diane’s work revolved around the  “social outcasts” of her time. These “outcasts” being dwarfs, giants, transgender people, and circus performers. She used her power through photography to accentuate the many beauties of these people who were viewed by the public as surreal and awkward. In fact, Diane quit commercial photography while shooting a cover for vogue because she couldn’t handle the environment of the studio, she decided to expand her horizons and photograph the public, or perhaps the public that hides in the dark because they aren’t accepted. It’s actually quite peculiar, Diane would stand around on the streets of the New York with her camera, waiting for someones who could “compel” the photographer. This practice started to become an everyday part of her life and it began to consume her. She was asking her husband to produce a role of film everyday, and she started to become more attached to her work.

Some may say that’s why their marriage didn’t work out. An interesting part of Diane’s work was that she completely flipped the social balance. She became famous for her confrontational black and white portraits of both “outcasts” and “commoners”.

Diane’s portraits of Crossdressers and drag performers were glorified and added a human characteristic to these people who were viewed as abnormal and ugly and weird. Arbus truly believed in the underdog and she managed to beautify and humanize these so-called “freaks”. On the other hand, Arbus’ family portraits of “everyday” and “normal” American families possessed an eerie tone and they created a morbid mood to the photos. Diane managed to flip the viewer’s perception of these two social groups into what she wanted, she could manipulate the mind with a simple photograph. Perhaps that’s why she’s seen as one of the most controversial, yet influential photographer of her time.


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