Best of the Best: Diane Arbus


A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you the less you know. – Diane Arbus

Diane Arbus (March 14, 1923 – July 26, 1971)

Diane Arbus, an American photographer, began taking pictures in advertising and fashion in the 1940s. Her husband, Allan Arbus, was also a photographer. Together they made a good tandem and their works appeared in various magazines.

Arbus shifted into the world of independent photography in the late 1950s. Although she was reserved and timid, she pursued street photography and took photographs of strangers she met in weird circuses, eerie morgues, grimy hotels, mental institutions, and other bizarre & unconventional locales. She became famous for her eccentric. medium-format photographs which portrayed offbeat and unusual subjects such as nudists, prostitutes, transvestites. She frequently photographed “freaks.” For her, these extraordinary human beings were born with their trauma and having surpassed this challenge made them aristocrats. She adored them.

Her photographs had unrefined quality and but they had a sharp impact on everyone. She became one of the most influential and original photographers of the 20th Century. Arbus had numerous exhibitions and her works were featured in different museums. She also became friends with other famous photographers, like Walker Evans and Richard Avedon.

As her photographic career heightened, her marriage became a struggle and ended in 1969. Wretchedly, her recurring depression consumed her and she committed suicide two years later. She was 48 years young.

Arbus’ strange collection of photographs remains to be a matter of strong interest. Her character was loosely portrayed by Nicole Kidman in the imaginary and fictitious film called Fur.

Child with a toy hand grenade in Central Park, 1962 © Diane Arbus via Masters of Photography
Triplets in their bedroom, 1963 © Diane Arbus via Masters of Photography
Puerto Rican woman with a beauty mark, 1965 © Diane Arbus via Masters of Photography
A family one evening in a nudist camp, 1965 © Diane Arbus via Masters of Photography
A young man with curlers at home on West 20th Street, 1966 © Diane Arbus via Masters of Photography
Masked man at a ball, 1967 © Diane Arbus via Masters of Photography
Identical twins, Roselle, 1967 © Diane Arbus via Masters of Photography
Mexican dwarf in his hotel room, 1970 © Diane Arbus via Masters of Photography
A Jewish giant at home with his parents in the Bronx, 1970 © Diane Arbus via Masters of Photography
Albino sword swallower at a carnival, 1970 © Diane Arbus via Masters of Photography
Untitled (1), 1970-71 © Diane Arbus via Masters of Photography
Untitled (3), 1970-71 © Diane Arbus via Masters of Photography
Untitled (6), 1970-71 © Diane Arbus via Masters of Photography

Which of these Diane Arbus photographs strike your liking the most? What other classic urban photographers would you like to be written about? Read more about the Best of the Best Series.

basterda is a member of the Lomography team in Manila. She has been dealing with your Customer Service concerns since August of 2010 and is now also contributing to the magazine. Influential Photographs is also one of her ongoing series for the Lifestyle section.

written by basterda on 2011-04-07 #lifestyle #black-and-white #diane-arbus #best-of-the-best-series #classic-photographers


  1. tattso
    tattso ·

    she is the earliest lomographer.

  2. lusisilu
    lusisilu ·

    great photographs! funny

  3. panpriatel
    panpriatel ·

    I wouldn't say she was lomographer. I would say, a lot of lomographers are trying to be like her. 0,001% are only close! :0)

  4. onegreenfan
    onegreenfan ·

    have come across the identical twin girls before ,now i know the maker. thanks

  5. gelibee
    gelibee ·

    I love her photographs! Thanks for sharing! :)

  6. so_r3tro
    so_r3tro ·


  7. buckshot
    buckshot ·

    Outstanding collection! These wonderful photos capture not just the 'freakishness' of their subjects, but their humanity too. Diane Arbus obviously invested her own soul in her work, and that earns my respect.

  8. jean_louis_pujol
    jean_louis_pujol ·

    I am sorry to say that I disagree. I prefer how Willy Ronis looked at people who surrounded him because he did not see himself as different from them... even the hobo who played music for a coin in the street. But I admit other's opinion regarding Diane Arbus

  9. extrafudge
    extrafudge ·

    Makes me wonder how the concept of freaky twinhood in some offbeat music video came from.

More Interesting Articles