Diane Arbus: Affinities
“ … Every difference is a Likeness too. There are associations, groups, clubs, alliances, milieus for every one of them. And each milieu is a small world, a subculture with a slightly other set of rules for the game. Not to ignore them, not to lump them all together, but to watch them, to take notice, to pay attention …”
— D. A.
To coincide with a major Diane Arbus exhibition at the Martin Gropius Bau in Berlin this summer, Timothy Taylor Gallery is proud to announce Diane Arbus: Affinities, an exhibition of thirty-two photographs made over the course of the artist’s career. Several of the photographs have never been exhibited before in the UK.
Arbus explored the notion of affinities – the elements that humans share, as well as those they don’t – throughout much of her mature work (1956-71). A deep interest in likenesses, disguises, in bonds, alliances and allegiances is a recurring theme. Arbus’s carefully considered titles – all for works to be included in the present exhibition – eloquently convey the depth and variety of her interests:
A naked man being a woman, N.Y.C. 1968
A blind couple in their bedroom, Queens, N.Y. 1971
Russian midget friends in a living room on 100th Street, N.Y.C. 1963
Four English children, Central Park, N.Y.C. 1962
Triplets in their bedroom, N.J. 1963
Two girls in matching bathing suits, Coney Island, N.Y.C. 1967
Winston Churchill look-alike, London, England 1969
Elizabeth Taylor look-alike reclining on a bed, London, England 1969
Wax Museum: Lord Snowdon and Princess Margaret, London 1969
As the last titles indicate, Arbus came to London in 1969 and began work on a magazine story she had proposed to Nova: “People Who Think They Look Like Other People.” The magazine placed the following ad in The Times and The Evening Standard, generating a tremendous response from prospective candidates: “Have you ever been told you look the double of someone famous? Like Elizabeth Taylor … Twiggy, The Queen, Mick Jagger, Sir Winston Churchill? If you think you are the double of someone famous you could be famous too.” In connection with what might be considered a related theme—people or things that appear to be what they are not—Arbus gained access to Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum on behalf of the magazine. “I got permission to go there at night when it was empty. I touched some of them,” she wrote in a letter to her daughter, Amy.
Diane Arbus, born Diane Nemerov in New York City in 1923, started taking pictures in the early 1940s and went on to study photography with Berenice Abbott, Alexey Brodovitch and later Lisette Model. Her first published photographs appeared in Esquire in 1960. In both 1963 and 1966 she was awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship. In 1967, she was one of three photographers to be included in the landmark exhibition, New Documents, at The Museum of Modern Art, New York. A year after her death her work was selected for inclusion at the Venice Biennale – the first work of an American photographer to be so honoured.
The Museum of Modern Art hosted a major retrospective that travelled through the United States and Canada from 1972 to 1975 and, in 2003, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art organised Revelations, a full-scale retrospective that then toured to museums in the United States and Europe, including the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, 2005-2006. A major touring exhibition is currently underway travelling from Jeu de Paume, Paris, Fotomuseum Winterthur, Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin, and Foam_Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam through 2012.