Diane Arbus: Christ in a lobby and Other Unknown or Almost Known Works; Selected by Robert Gober

Whenever I give a talk about my work I am invariably asked who my influences are. Not what my influences are, but who. As if the gutter, misunderstandings, memories, sex, dreams, and books matter less than forebears do. After all, in terms of influences, it is as much the guy who mugged me on Tenth Street, or my beloved dog who passed away much too early, as it was Giotto or Diane Arbus. —Robert Gober

Fraenkel Gallery is pleased to present Christ in a lobby and Other Unknown or Almost Known Works by Diane Arbus, on view from January 7 through March, 6, 2010. The exhibition has been selected and assembled by the sculptor Robert Gober.

In 1976, Gober made an untitled still-life drawing depicting the cover of the 1972 monograph Diane Arbus, along with other household items: a pack of cigarettes, sunglasses, coins, an ashtray. That drawing–still in the artist’s collection, and to be included in the forthcoming exhibition–signaled an early appreciation of Arbus’s photographs, and Gober’s subsequent body of work evidences certain affinities with hers, including Arbus’s willingness “to look at everything that you weren’t supposed to” [Gober, in a 2005 interview].

In the summer of 2009, Gober was invited to study a heretofore little known body of Arbus’s photographs, and to select a group for exhibition. He chose approximately forty-eight works spanning the artist’s career, beginning with Girl watching a soap bubble, Central Park, N.Y.C., from 1956, to a photograph made the last year of Arbus’s life, Blonde girl with a hotdog in the park, N.Y.C., 1971. Other works in Gober’s selection focus on housewives, muscle men, characters on movie screens, couples, nudists, carnival performers, and people on the street–subjects that when seen by Arbus became entirely her own.

Diane Arbus is one of the most influential photographers in the history of the medium. Her work was the subject of the book and retrospective, Diane Arbus Revelations, organized by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 2003. An exhibition of Arbus’s photographs, organized by the Jeu de Paume, Paris, is scheduled to open in the fall of 2011 and travel to other European institutions.

Robert Gober’s work has been exhibited widely in the U.S. and abroad. In 2001 he was chosen to represent the United States in the 49th Venice Biennale, and in 2007 a thirty-year survey of his work was organized by the Schaulager in Basel, Switzerland. His other curatorial work includes The Meat Wagon at the Menil Collection in Houston (2005), and the highly acclaimed Heat Waves in a Swamp: The Paintings of Charles Burchfield, at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2009). He lives and works in New York City.

In January 2010, the work of both Arbus and Gober will be exhibited at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in Focus on Artists, highlighting artists whose work the Museum has collected in depth.

Two friends in the park, N.Y.C., 1965, gelatin-silver print
Untitled, 1976, graphite on paper