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Diane Arbus:Family Albums

Portland Art Museum
Portland OR Feb 19-Apr 24, 2005

Diane Arbus -  Untitled
Diane Arbus, Blaze Starr at home (1964), gelatin silver print [Portland Art Museum, OR, Feb 19-Apr 24] Copyright © Estate of Diane Arbus, 1965, Esquire Collection, Spencer Museum of Art, the University of Kansas

Diane Arbus is a powerful figure in the history of American photography. She is best known for her controversial images of people in New York in the 1960s. Arbus revealed the face of a disgruntled society through her portraits of “freaks”, asylum patients, transvestites and other subjects that breached social norms.

Family Albums is an extensive exhibition featuring her images of the 1960s “family”. Some never-before-seen contact sheets and a series from a commissioned portrait session of actor Konrad Matthaei’s family are included in this exhibition.  

Diane Arbus - Jayne Mansfield Cimber-Ottaviano, actress, with her daughter Jayne Marie, thirteen
Diane Arbus, Jayne Mansfield Cimber-Ottaviano, actress, with her daughter Jayne Marie, thirteen (1965), gelatin silver print [Portland Art Museum, OR, Feb 19-Apr 24] Copyright © Estate of Diane Arbus, 1965. Esquire Collection, Spencer Museum of Art, the University of Kansas

A pioneer of photography, Arbus often utilized a flash in daylight to create a peculiar, isolated tone in her compositions. This approach was essential for the impact of Arbus’ photographs. Using her camera to unmask the stylized illusions that were typical of the magazine industry and modern culture, Arbus captured authentic personalities on an emotional level. She exposed troubled and vulnerable psyches. Uncropped edges of her medium-format photographs emphasize the raw nature of her subjects.

Since her suicide in 1971, Arbus’ work has gained international recognition. She was the first American photographer to be exhibited in the Venice Biennale – ironically, shortly after her death. This exhibit was organized by a collaboration between the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum and the Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas.

Photo: Matthaei Collection of Commissioned Family Photographs by Diane Arbus © Marcella Hague Matthaei Ziesmann

Allyn Cantor

 Thu, Feb 3, 2005