Diane Arbus is one of the twentieth century’s most original and influential artists, and Diane Arbus Documents is the first definitive history of her remarkable body of work as filtered through the lens of the most important critics and art historians of her—and our—time.
Best known for her penetrating images exploring what it means to be human, Arbus is a pivotal and singular figure in American postwar photography. Arbus’s black-and-white photographs demolish aesthetic conventions and upend all certainties. Both lauded and criticized for her photographs of people deemed “outsiders,” Arbus continues to be a lightning rod for a wide range of opinions surrounding her subject matter and approach. Critics and writers have described her work as “sinister” and “appalling” as well as “revelatory,” “sincere,” and “compassionate.”
Through an assemblage of articles, criticism, and essays from 1967 to the present, Diane Arbus Documents charts the reception of the groundbreaking photographer’s work and offers comprehensive insight into the critical conversations, as well as misconceptions, around the artist and her work.
Illuminating fifty years of evolution in the field of art criticism, Documents provides a new template for understanding the work of any formidable artist. Organized in eleven sections that focus on major exhibitions and significant events emerging from Arbus’s work, as well as on her methods and intentions, the sixty-nine facsimiles of previously published articles and essays––an archive by all accounts––trace the discourse on Arbus, contextualizing her inimitable oeuvre. Supplemented by an annotated bibliography of more than six hundred entries and a comprehensive exhibition history, Documents serves as an important resource for photographers, researchers, art historians, and art critics, in addition to students of art criticism and the interested reader alike.