Queer Places:
Ethical Culture Fieldston School, 3901 Fieldston Rd, Bronx, NY 10471, Stati Uniti
The New School, 72 5th Ave, New York, NY 10011, Stati Uniti
Westbeth Artists Housing, 55 Bethune St, New York, NY 10014
Ferncliff Cemetery, 280 Secor Rd, Hartsdale, NY 10530, Stati Uniti

Image result for Diane ArbusDiane Arbus (March 14, 1923 – July 26, 1971) was an American photographer noted for photographs of marginalized people—dwarfs, giants, transgender people, nudists, circus performers—and others whose normality was perceived by the general populace as ugly or surreal.[2][3][4][5][6] Her work has been described as consisting of formal manipulation characterized by blatant sensationalism.[7]

In 1972, a year after she died by suicide (there exists a popular cliche of her being the Sylvia Plath of photographers),[7][8] Arbus became the first American photographer to have photographs displayed at the Venice Biennale.[9] Millions viewed traveling exhibitions of her work in 1972–1979.[10][11] The book accompanying the exhibition, Diane Arbus: An Aperture Monograph, edited by Doon Arbus and Marvin Israel and first published in 1972 was still in print by 2006, having become the best selling photography monograph ever.[12] Between 2003 and 2006, Arbus and her work were the subjects of another major traveling exhibition, Diane Arbus Revelations.[13] In 2006, the motion picture Fur, starring Nicole Kidman as Arbus, presented a fictional version of her life story.[14]

Arbus was born Diane Nemerov to David Nemerov and Gertrude Russek Nemerov,[5][15] a Jewish couple who lived in New York City and owned Russek's, a famous Fifth Avenue department store.[15][16] Because of her family's wealth, Arbus was insulated from the effects of the Great Depression while growing up in the 1930s.[15] Her father became a painter after retiring from Russek's; her younger sister would become a sculptor and designer; and her older brother, Howard Nemerov, a professor of English at Washington University in St. Louis, would later become United States Poet Laureate and the father of the Americanist art historian Alexander Nemerov.[5]

Diane Nemerov attended the Fieldston School for Ethical Culture, a prep school.[13] In 1941, at the age of eighteen, she married her childhood sweetheart Allan Arbus,[5] whom she had dated since age 14.[17] Their first daughter, Doon, who would later become a writer, was born in 1945; their second daughter, Amy, who would later become a photographer, was born in 1954.[5] Arbus and her husband worked together. After long hours in the studio, Diane would rush home to cook dinner for Allan and their two daughters. Allan was very supportive of Diane, even after she quit commercial photography and she began developing an independent relationship to photography.[18]

Diane and Allan Arbus separated in 1959, and were divorced in 1969.[19] They still remained close because of their daughters. Allan would come over for Sunday breakfast and he continued to develop Diane's film.[18]

Diane began a relationship with art director and painter Marvin Israel that would last roughly ten years, until the time of her death. He was married and made clear to Arbus that he was never going to leave his wife. He pushed Arbus very hard regarding her work.


Westbeth Artists Housing, 55 Bethune St, New York, NY 10014

Arbus experienced "depressive episodes" during her life similar to those experienced by her mother, and the episodes may have been made worse by symptoms of hepatitis.[5] Arbus wrote in 1968, "I go up and down a lot", and her ex-husband noted that she had "violent changes of mood". On July 26, 1971, while living at Westbeth Artists Community in New York City, Arbus took her own life by ingesting barbiturates and slashing her wrists with a razor.[4] She wrote the words "Last Supper" in her diary and placed her appointment book on the stairs leading up to the bathroom. Marvin Israel found her body in the bathtub two days later; she was 48 years old.[4][5] Photographer Joel Meyerowitz told journalist, Arthur Lubow, "If she was doing the kind of work she was doing and photography wasn’t enough to keep her alive, what hope did we have?”[18]

Her ashes were buried at Ferncliff Cemetery, but no record exists at the cemetery.[44]

Without a will, responsibility of Arbus' work went to her daughter, Doon.[45] Doon had her work displayed in the Venice Biennale and a posthumous retrospective at MoMA just over a year after her mother's death.[46][47]


  1. Diane Arbus: Revelations. New York: Random House, 2003. ISBN 0-375-50620-9.
  2. Arbus, Diane. Diane Arbus. Millerton, New York: Aperture, 1972. ISBN 0-912334-40-1.
  3. Bosworth, Patricia. Diane Arbus: a Biography. New York: W. W. Norton, 2005. Page 250. ISBN 0-393-32661-6.
  4. Lubow, Arthur (September 14, 2003). "Arbus Reconsidered". The New York Times. Retrieved February 7, 2010.
  5. DeCarlo, Tessa (May 2004). "A Fresh Look at Diane Arbus". Smithsonian magazine. Retrieved December 13, 2017.
  6. Gaines, Steven. The Sky's the Limit: Passion and Property in Manhattan. New York: Little, Brown, 2005. Page 143. ISBN 0-316-60851-3.
  7. Kimmelman, Michael (2004-01-09). "PHOTOGRAPHY REVIEW; Diane Arbus, a Hunter Wielding a Lens". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-04-21. ... at the end of December 1969 [Arbus] was hired by a rich and prominent actor and theater owner, Konrad Matthaei, and his wife, Gay [...], to shoot a family Christmas gathering [...] Her work, like all allegorical art, comes down to formal manipulation. The cliché of her as the Sylvia Plath of photographers [...] Whether you admire or disdain her blatant sensationalism -- because that's what it is -- the quality of your reaction is a measure of her obvious graphic novelty.
  8. Hughes, Robert (November 13, 1972). "Art: To Hades with Lens". Time Magazine.
  9. John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. "Fellows. Diane Arbus". Archived 2010-11-25 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved February 4, 2010.
  10. Cheim & Read Gallery. "Diane Arbus: Biography".[permanent dead link] Retrieved February 10, 2010.
  11. Muir, Robin. "Woman's Studies". The Independent (London), October 18, 1997. Retrieved February 4, 2010.
  12. Bissell, Gerhard. "Arbus, Diane", in Allgemeines Künstlerlexikon (World Biographical Dictionary of Artists), 2006, and "Diane Arbus" (condensed English version).
  13. Rubinfien, Leo. "Where Diane Arbus Went". Art in America, volume 93, number 9, pages 65–71, 73, 75, 77, October 2005.
  14. Dargis, Manohla. "A Visual Chronicler of Humanity's Underbelly, Draped in a Pelt of Perversity". The New York Times, November 10, 2006. Retrieved February 4, 2010.
  15. Crookston, Peter. Extra Ordinary. The Guardian, October 1, 2005. Retrieved February 12, 2010.
  16. Schjeldahl, Peter. "Looking Back: Diane Arbus at the Met". The New Yorker, March 21, 2005. Retrieved February 4, 2010.
  17. Bosworth, Patricia (May 13, 1984). "Diane Arbus". The New York Times Magazine: 42–59.
  18. Mar, Alex (March 11, 2017). "The Cost of Diane Arbus's Life on the Edge". The Cut.
  19. Hinckley, David. "M.A.S.H. actor Allan Arbus dead at 95". New York Daily News. Retrieved 13 December 2014.
  20. Lubow, Arthur (April 2, 1967). "Arbus Reconsidered". The New York Times Magazine.
  21. Ronnen, Meir. "The Velazquez of New York". Archived 2010-03-27 at the Wayback Machine. The Jerusalem Post, October 10, 2003. Retrieved February 12, 2010.
  22. Tarzan, Deloris. "Arbus – Her Brutal Lens Disclosed Aspects Previously Unseen in Her Subjects". The Seattle Times, September 21, 1986.
  23. O'Neill, Alistair. "A Young Woman, N.Y.C." Photography & Culture, volume 1, number 1, pp. 7–20, July 2008.
  24. Sass, Louis A. "'Hyped on Clarity': Diane Arbus and the Postmodern Condition". Raritan, volume 25, number 1, pp. 1–37, Summer 2005.
  25. Lacayo, Richard. "Photography: Diane Arbus: Visionary Voyeurism". Time magazine, November 3, 2003. Retrieved February 12, 2010.
  26. Krasinski, Jennifer (July 27 – August 2, 2016). "Beauty and the Streets". Village Voice.
  27. Pogrebin, Robin (July 10, 2016). "Diane Arbus: The Early Years". The New York Times.
  28. Badger, Gerry (2003). "Arbus [née Nemerov], Diane". Oxford Art Online. Retrieved 1/30/2018. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  29. Fox, Catherine. "Snapshot/Diane Arbus: True Portrait Lies Outside Film." The Atlanta Journal--Constitution Dec 03 2006 ProQuest. 2 Mar. 2017
  30. Fairy Tales for Grown-Ups (Exhibition pamphlet). National Gallery of Canada. 2000.
  31. Wood, Gaby (October 8, 2016). "Incest, suicide – and the real reason we should remember Diane Arbus". The Telegraph. Retrieved March 7, 2018.
  32. "Guggenheim Fund Grants $1,380,000". The New York Times, April 29, 1963.
  33. Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Diane Arbus Revelations: More About This Exhibition". March 8, 2005 – May 30, 2005. Retrieved February 7, 2010.
  34. Gefter, Philip (9 July 2007). "John Szarkowski, Curator of Photography, Dies at 81". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 December 2014.
  35. "No. 21" (PDF). Museum of Modern Art. Retrieved 26 December 2014.
  36. O'Hagan, Sean (20 July 2010). "Was John Szarkowski the most influential person in 20th-century photography?". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 December 2014.
  37. Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (March 1973). "News Release".
  38. Warren, Lynne (2006). Encyclopedia of Twentieth-Century Photography, 3-Volume Set. London: Routledge. ISBN 978-1-57958-393-4. Retrieved 27 December 2014.
  39. "Portraits on Assignment (Press Release)". Robert Miller Gallery, Inc. 1984.
  40. "The Other Side of Diane Arbus". Society, volume 28, number 2, pages 75–79, January/February 1991.
  41. Szarkowski, John. From the Picture Press. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1973.
  42. Pagel, David. "Diane Arbus: Pictures from the Institutions". Los Angeles Times, May 15, 1992. Retrieved February 12, 2010.
  43. Gefter, Philip. "In Portraits by Others, a Look That Caught Avedon's Eye". The New York Times, August 27, 2006. Retrieved March 5, 2010.
  44. Wilson, Scott. Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed.: 2 (Kindle Location 1448). McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. Kindle Edition.
  45. "Arbus Reconsidered". The New York Times, 14 September 2003. Accessed 10 May 2017
  46. "In the Picture: A new biography of Diane Arbus.". The New Yorker, 6 June 2016. Accessed 10 May 2017
  47. "Diane Arbus, her vision, lide, and death". The New York Times, 13 May 1984. Accessed 10 May 2017