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Diane Arbus (American, 1923–1971)
LOT ID: 65125
Mae West in a Chair at Home, Santa Monica, California, 1965

Silver Print, Gelatin silver print
20 х 16 in. (50.8 x 40.64 cm.)
Signed, on verso in ink by Doon Arbus, Executor of the Estate of Diane Arbus; printed by Neil Selkirk; editioned on verso, stamps of the Estate of Diane Arbus on verso.
Edition of 75
Lot description
Diane Arbus, Mae West in a Chair at Home, Santa Monica, California, 1965. Gelatin silver print, 20 x 16 inches (50.8 x 40.64 cm). Edition of 75. Printed later.

Diane Arbus (March 14, 1923 – July 26, 1971) was an American photographer, noted for her portraits of people on the fringes of society, such as transvestites, dwarfs, giants, prostitutes and ordinary working class citizens, in unconventional poses and settings.

Arbus' early work was created using 35mm cameras, but by the 1960's Arbus adopted the Rolleiflex medium format twin-lens reflex. This format provided a square aspect ratio, higher image resolution, and a waist-level viewfinder that allowed Arbus to connect with her subjects in ways that a standard eye-level viewfinder did not. Arbus also experimented with the use of flashes in daylight, allowing her to highlight and separate her subjects from the background.

MoMA curator John Szarkowski prepared to stage a retrospective in 1972, but the accompanying Diane Arbus catalog proposal was turned down by all major publishing houses. Aperture magazine's Michael E. Hoffman accepted the challenge, producing an influential photography book. The Aperture monograph has since been reprinted 12 times, selling more than 100,000 copies. The MoMA retrospective traveled throughout North America attracting more than 7 million viewers. Also in 1972, Arbus became the first American photographer to be represented at the Venice Biennale. Arbus' photograph Identical Twins is tenth on the list of most expensive photographs having sold in 2004 for $478,400.

In 2006, the film Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus was released, starring Nicole Kidman as Arbus. Though it is a highly fictionalized account of a period in her life, it used Patricia Bosworth's book Diane Arbus: A Biography as a source.
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