Diane Arbus


Self Portrait

She is a wonderful photographer. Well, she’s dead now. She’s noted for black and white photographs of ‘marginal‘ members of society: little people, transvestites, circus performers and outcasts. Though she was afraid that subject would define her – which it did.
Her photos are really very striking. The darkness in them is like a veil. I would say depressing, but very bleak and somber. Perhaps because her subjects are usually not smiling, this grim feeling translates on to even her happy photos. Of which there are not many of smiling faces.
Art can be an important expression of emotions.
To try to contain it rationally immediately creates a criteria of appropriateness or quality that does not apply.
For example, Diane was criticized for the lack of beauty in her work, who said art need to be beautiful? That is a standard created by people who wish to find a reason for art where there is no reason.
In response, those critics themselves accused of aesthetic insensibility.
Perhaps either is true. What do you value in art? Aesthetics? Emotions? Do you analyse art, or do you go with a gut feeling? Do you even like Diane Arbus’ work?
If you do, here is a selection of equally brilliant and striking works by others.


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