Diane Arbus


Diane Arbus (born in New York in 1923, died in 1971 in New York) is one of the most important artists in documentary style photography. She exhibited her work alongside Lee Friedlander and Garry Winogrand in the seminal exhibition New Documents at MoMa in 1967. Her extensive body of work includes images of people on the fringes of social acceptance as well as photographs of allegedly “normal” people, which show the cracks in their masks. Arbus touches questions of gender and identity with directness and sensibility at the same time. Her works are often compared to those of August Sander, whose portraits represent similar concerns, albeit in a seemingly more objective manner.

Arbus found most of her subjects in New York, a place that she particularly explored during the 1950s and 1960s. Her “contemporary anthropology” – portraits of couples, children, carnival performers, nudists, middle-class families, transvestites, people on the street – stands as an allegory of postwar America and an exploration of the relationship between appearance and identity, illusion and belief, theater and reality.

For Arbus, photography was a medium that tangled with the facts. Many of her subjects face the camera, implicitly aware of their collaboration in the portrait-making process. In her photographs, the self-conscious encounter between photographer and subject becomes a central drama of the picture.

Diane Arbus’s work has been presented in major international museum exhibitions. In 1972, a year after her death, she was the first American photographer to have her work represented at the Venice Biennale.



Diane Nemerov is born in New York.


Meets Allan Arbus.

During World War II Allan Arbus studies photography at the Signal Corps Photography School in Fort Monmouth, New Jersey.

He sets up a darkroom at home and teaches his wife what he had learned.

After the war, Diane and Allan Arbus start their careers as fashion photographers.


Marries Allan Arbus.

1950 – 1959

Begins to study with Lisette Model at the New School for Social Research in New York. Following Model’s advice, she stops doing commercial work and persues her art.

Her photographs are published in Esquire, New York Times Magazine, Sunday Times Magazine (London) ecc.


Separation from Allan Arbus

Receives two Guggenheim Fellowships

Island School of Design in Providence


Group exhibition “New Documents” with Lee Friedlander and Garry Winogrand, Museum of Modern Art, New York


Portfolio of ten prints for her first limited edition. Commits suicide in Greenwich Village, New York, USA

Selected Solo Exhibitions


Diane Arbus: Constellation, LUMA Arles, Arles, France


Diane Arbus: Photographs, 1956–1971, Museo Louisiana, Humlebæk, Denmark

Diane Arbus. Portraits, Galerie Thomas Zander, Cologne, Germany


Diane Arbus: In The Beginning, Hayward Gallery, London, UK


Diane Arbus: A Box of Ten Photographs, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.

Artist Rooms: Diane Arbus, Burton Art Gallery & Museum Bideford, UK

Diane Arbus: American Portraits, Heide Museum of Modern Art, Australia

2016 – 2017

Diane Arbus. In the Beginning, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, California


Diane Arbus. Kirkcaldy Galleries, Kirkcaldy, UK

2011 – 2013

Diane Arbus, Galerie Nationale de Jeu de Paume, Paris, France; Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland; Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin, Germany and Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam, Netherlands


Diane Arbus, Artists Rooms, Tate Modern, London, UK


Christ in a Lobby and Other Unknown or Almost Known Works, Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, California

In The Absence of Others, Cheim & Reid, New York


Diane Arbus, Timothy Taylor Gallery, London, UK

Rétrospective imprimée, 1960-1971, Centre Regional de la Photographie, Douchy-les-Mines and Kadist Art Foundation, Paris, France


Something was There. Early works, Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, California

Diane Arbus, Galerie Thomas Zander, Cologne, Germany

A Fine Collection, A Gallery for Fine Photography, New Orleans
, Louisiana


Revelations, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota

The Photographs of Diane Arbus, Gold Coast City Art Gallery, Australia

Revelations, Caixa Forum – Fundació la Caixa, Barcelona
, Spain

Revelations, The Victoria and Albert Museum, London
, UK


Family Albums, Reynolda House Museum of American Art, Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Revelations, Museum Folkwang, Essen
 , Germany

Revelations, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Family Albums, Portland Art Museum, Portland, Oregon

Other Faces Other Rooms, Robert Miller Gallery, New York

Diane Arbus, Gallery Koyanagi, Portland, Oregon


Revelations, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas

Family Albums, Portland Museum of Art, Portland, Oregon

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, California

Family Albums, Grey Art Gallery, New York University


Diane Arbus, De Hallen, Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem, Netherlands


Retrospective, Museum of Modern Art, New York

Selected Group Exhibitions

2023 – 2024

This Is Me, This Is You. The Eva Felten Photography Collection, Museum Brandhorst, Munich, Germany


Resonances. Fundación MAPFRE Collections, KBr Photography Center, Barcelona, Spain

A Female Gaze, Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York, USA


Cruel Radiance: Photography, 1940s–1960s, The MET, New York, USA

American Photography, Albertina, Vienna, Austria


Photography’s Last Century: The Ann Tenenbaum and Thomas H. Lee Collection, The Met, New York


Shape of Light: Defining Photographs from the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Poughkeepsie, New York

We love Photography! 20 years of Art Collection Deutsche Börse, Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation, Frankfurt/Main, Germany


Always Greener: Seeing and Seeking Suburbia—Selections from the Museum’s Collection, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas

No Time, McEvoy Foundation for the Arts, San Francisco, California

Do­ing the Doc­u­ment. Pho­to­graphs from Diane Ar­bus to Pi­et Zwart. The Barten­bach Do­na­tion, Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany

[SPACE] Street. Life. Photography. Seven Decades of Street Photography, Triennial of Photography, House of Photography, Deichtorhallen Hamburg, Germany

Real Worlds: Brassaï, Arbus, Goldin, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, California


THE AMERICAN DREAM – American Realism 1945-2017, Kunsthalle Emden, Germany and Drents Museum, Assen, Netherlands


Another story. 1000 Photographs from the Moderna Museet Collection, Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden

PHOTOGRAPHY CALLING! Fotografie und Gegenwart, Sprengel Museum, Hanover, Germany

September 11, P.S.1., Museum of Modern Art, New York


Pictures by Women: A History of Modern Photography, The Museum of Modern Art, New York


Private Eyes, la Colección de Laurence Miller, Sala Municipal de San Benito, Valladolid, Spain

Picturing New York: Photographs from The Museum of Modern Art, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, Ireland

The Sum of Myself: Photographic Self-Portraits from the Audrey and Sydney Irmas Collection, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, California

Masters of Photography, Fifty One Fine Art Photography, Antwerps, Belgium

Face to Face: 150 Years of Photographic Portraiture, Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix and CCP Center for Creative Photography, Tucson, Arizona

elles@centrepompidou, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France


The White Under The Red, Galerie Metro, Berlin, Germany

Seventies, le choc de la photographie américaine, Bibliothèque National de France, Paris, France

The Fallen Angels, Watarium Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, Japan

1968. Die große Unschuld, Kunsthalle Bielefeld, Bielefeld, Germany

BIG CITY, Wien Museum, Vienna, Austria

Sander’s Children, Danziger Projects, New York

Street & Studio, Museum Folkwang, Essen, Germany


Diane Arbus, Neil Selkirk, Camera Work, Berlin, Germany

Female Trouble, Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich, Germany

Street & Studio: An Urban History of Photography, Tate Modern, London , UK

Diane Arbus, Richard Avedon, August Sander, Pace / MacGill Gallery, New York

New York at Night: Photographs from the Collection, Museum of Modern Art, New York


Diane Arbus – Helen Levitt: A Conversation, Laurence Miller Gallery, New York

NEW YORK, NY, Fifty One Fine Art Photography, Antwerp, Belgium

Americans, Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna, Austria


Das Achte Feld – Geschlechter, Leben und Begehren in der bildenden Kunst seit 1960, Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany


In Sight: Recent Additions to the Permanent Collection, The Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, Illinois

Biennale Internazionale di Fotografia di Brescia, Italy

The Street: Pioneers of 20th-Century Photography, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Set Up: Recent Acquisitions in Photography, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

Reinstallation of The Museum of Modern Art’s Collection, Museum of Modern Art, New York


Female Identities? Künstlerinnen der Sammlung Goetz, Weserburg I Museum für Moderne Kunst, Bremen, Germany

Cruel and Tender: The Real in the Twentieth-Century Photograph, Tate Modern, London , UK and Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany

On the Art of Fixing a Shadow: One Hundred and Fifty Years of Photography, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois and Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, California


Menschenbilder, Galerie Thomas Zander, Cologne, Germany


Photography Until Now, Museum of Modern Art, New York and Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, Ohio


Mirrors and Windows: American Photography since 1960; Museum of Modern Art, New York


Contemporary Photographs I, Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts


Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy


Thirteen Photographers, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York

Human Concern / Personal Torment: The Grotesque in American Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

ew Photography U.S.A., Museum of Modern Art, New York

10 Photographers, U.S. Pavilion, Japan World Exhibition, Osaka, Japan


New Documents: Diane Arbus, Lee Friedlander, Garry Winogrand, Museum of Modern Art, New York


Recent Acquisitions: Photography; Museum of Modern Art, New York, New York and School of Fine Arts, University of Wisconsin

Invitational Exhibition: 10 American Photographers Milwaukee


The Family of Man. Museum of Modern Art, New York (with Allan Arbus)

Selected Bibliography


Diane Arbus. Untitled, exh. cat., Schirmer/Mosel Verlag, Munich, Germany

Diane Arbus. Photography Calling!, exh.cat., Steidl Publishers, Göttingen, Germany


Doon Arbus (Ed.): Diane Arbus. The Libraries


Diane Arbus. Revelations/Enthüllungen, Folkwang Museum, Essen, Germany

Diane Arbus. Familiy Album


Untitled. Diane Arbus


Diane Arbus. Magazine Work


Diane Arbus. An Aperture Monograph, Aperture, New York

Public Collections

Akron Art Museum, Akron

BA-CA Kunstforum, Vienna, Austria

Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham, Alabama

Center for Creative Photography, Tucson, Arizona

Cleveland Museum of Art

Davison Art Center, Middletown

Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Poughkeepsie

International Center of Photography, New York

John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota

IVAM, Valencia, Spain

KMS Fine Art Group, Baar, Switzerland

Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Milwaukee Art Museum

Moderna Museet, Malmö, Denmark

Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden

Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles

Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, Florida

National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa

National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo

New Orleans Museum of Art

Reina Sofía, Madrid

Sammlung Goetz, Munich

Spencer Museum of Art, Lawrence

Sweet Briar College Art Gallery

The Progressive Art Collection, Mayfield Village

Vancouver Art Gallery

Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown

Ydessa Hendeles Art Foundation, Toronto

Yokohama Museum of Art






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