Diane Arbus

1923–1971

Encouraged by her husband, Allan Arbus, Diane Arbus (American, 1923–1971) took up photography in 1941. Before separating, they worked collaboratively, first taking photographs and creating advertisements for her family's, then creating commercial fashion photography for Harper’s Bazaar, The New York Times, and Vogue. After taking a brief photography course with Berenice Abbott, Arbus met Lisette Model, and studied with her from 1955 to 1957. With Model’s encouragement Arbus gave up commercial work to concentrate on fine-art photography. Her photo essays and works began to appear in The New York Times and other publications in 1960. Her portraits of members of the middle class as well as of subcultures and marginalized groups garnered both considerable attention and sharp criticism. From the mid-1960s on she also taught at such institutions as the Rhode Island School of Design. Her works were shown in the 1967 New Documents exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, which also mounted a retrospective one year after her suicide.