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Diane Arbus: Family Albums 
 
  
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Product Details 
  
 
Paperback 
168 pages 
Yale University Press 
Published 2003 
  
From Publishers Weekly 
  
Arbus is best known for her photographs of segments of American society considered "marginal": circus freaks, nudists, mentally challenged adults, homeless people. However, in the late '60s, after her successful show at the Museum of Modern Art, Arbus (who committed suicide in 1971) wrote to a friend that she was working on "a book of photographs with the working title Family Album." With this in mind, the authors have grouped mostly unseen work of Arbus's around the concept of family, matching it with work by along with photographs by Walker Evans, August Sander and annonymous early photographers that reflects her themes and techniques. Aside from 20 or so uneasy full-page portraits of famous people and their children (Tokyo Rose and Mae West photographed in 1965; Ozzie and Harriet Nelson followed by Ricky with wife and kids in 1971), the most compelling inclusion is an extensive series of commissioned photographs, 322 shots in total, that Arbus took of actor, theater owner and producer Konrad Matthaei and his family during a holiday gathering. The authors print the contact sheets in their original form and provide details on the shoot. In contract to the image of Arbus as "a predator zealously, even uncontrollably, out for prey," the more natural, unposed shots of the Matthaei family seem genuinely warm. But the stiffer, more disturbing shots of the Matthaei daughters, in which they were separated from the rest of the family and "asked to stand uncomfortably still, arms held tight, jaws locked, knees knocked, eyes level, lips taut" are particularly and familiarly focused, giving valuable insight into what Arbus's final family album would have been, had she completed it.  
  
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.  
  
 
  
From the Publisher 
  
This book accompanies an exhibition at the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum (September 2 to December 7, 2004); Grey Gallery, New York University (January 13 to March 27, 2004); Portland Museum of Art, Maine (June 5 to September 6, 2004); the Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas (October 16, 2004 to January 16, 2005); and other venues to be announced. Published in association with the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum and the Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas  
  
 
  
Book Description 
  
Diane Arbus (1923-1971) is renowned for her provocative and unsettling portraits of modern Americans. This book presents a significant body of previously unpublished pictures by Arbus and proposes a radically new way to understand her goals, strategies, and overall work. Diane Arbus: Family Albums examines unknown contact sheets from several of Arbus's portrait sessions, including more than three hundred photographs she took of a New York family one weekend in 1969. Anthony W. Lee and John Pultz put to the test Arbus's claim that she was developing a "family album." They present other images Arbus shot for Esquire magazine (including pictures of the families of Ricky Nelson, Jayne Mansfield, and Ogden Reid) and discuss her interest in photographic groupings of both traditional and alternative families. Challenging common interpretations of Arbus, the authors reveal a photographer far more savvy with the camera, more aware of photography as an artistic and commercial practice, and more sensitive to the social and cultural tensions of the 1960s than has been acknowledged before.
 
  
 
  

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Diane Arbus: A Biography 
  
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Diane Arbus: Family Albums 
  
Anthony W. Lee; & John Pultz
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