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Diane Arbus 1923-1971 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque.

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Presentation on theme: "Diane Arbus 1923-1971 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque."— Presentation transcript:

1 Diane Arbus ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

2 Diane Arbus

3 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Diane Arbus Howard Nemerov ( ), Diane Arbus’ brother

4 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Diane Arbus

5 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Diane Arbus

6 Susan Sontag on Diane Arbus (from On Photography) "You see someone on the street," Arbus wrote, "and essentially what you notice about them is the flaw." The insistent sameness of Arbus's work, however far she ranges from her prototypical subjects, shows that her sensibility armed with a camera, could insinuate anguish, kinkiness, mental illness with any subject.... The authority of Arbus's photographs derives from the contrast between their lacerating subject matter and their calm, matter-of-fact attentiveness. This quality of attention--the attention paid by the photographer, the attention paid by the subject to the act of being photographed--creates the moral theater of Arbus's straight-on, contemplative portraits. Far from spying on freaks and pariahs, catching them unawares, the photographer has gotten to know them, reassured them--so that they posed for her as calmly and stiffly as any Victorian notable sat for a studio portrait by Julia Margaret Cameron. A large part of the mystery of Arbus’s photographs lies in what they suggest about how her subject felt after consenting to be photographed. Do they see themselves, the viewer wonders, like that? Do they know how grotesque they are? It seems as if they don’t. ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Diane Arbus

7 I am in an enormous ornate white gorgeous hotel which is on fire, doomed, but the fire is burning so slowly that people are still allowed to come and go freely. I can't see the fire but smoke hangs thinly everywhere especially around the lights. It is terribly pretty. I am in a hurry and I want to photograph most awfully. I go to our rooms to get what I must save and I cannot find it whatever it is. My grandmother is around, perhaps in the next room. I do not know what I am looking for, what I must save, how soon the building will collapse, what I must do, how long I may photograph. Maybe I don't even have film or can't find my camera. I am constantly interrupted. Everyone is busy and wandering around but it's quiet and a little slowed. The elevators are golden. It's like the sinking Titanic... I am filled with delight but anxious and confused and cannot get to the photographing. My whole life is there. It is a sort of calm but painfully blocked ecstasy like when a baby is coming and the attendants ask you to hold back because they aren't ready. I am almost overcome with delight but plagued by the interruptions of it. There are cupids carved in the ceilings. Perhaps I will be unable to photograph if I save anything including the camera and myself. I am strangely alone although people are all around. They keep disappearing. No one tells me what to do but I worry lest I am neglecting them or not doing something I am supposed to do. It is like an emergency in slow motion. I am in the eye of the storm. Diane Arbus, A Dream from a 1959 Notebook ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Diane Arbus

8 Some Thoughts from Diane Arbus  I have this funny thing which is that I'm never afraid when I'm looking in the ground glass. This person could be approaching with a gun or something like that and I'd have my eyes glued to the finder and it wasn't like I was really vulnerable. It just seemed terrific what was happening. I mean I'm sure there are limits. God knows, when the troops start advancing on me, you do approach that stricken feeling where you perfectly well can get killed.  A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you the less you know.  Nothing is ever the same as they said it was. It's what I've never seen before that I recognize. ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Diane Arbus

9 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Diane Arbus Loser at a Diaper Derby, N.J., 1967

10 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Diane Arbus A child crying, N.J. 1967

11 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Diane Arbus A young Brooklyn family going for a Sunday outing, N.Y.C. 1966

12 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Child with a toy hand grenade in Central Park, N.Y.C Diane Arbus

13 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Hermaphrodite and a dog in a carnival trailer, Md Diane Arbus

14 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Diane Arbus A Jewish giant at home with his parents in the Bronx, N.Y. 1970

15 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Diane Arbus Identical twins, Roselle, N.J. 1967

16 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Diane Arbus Triplets in their bedroom, N.J. 1963

17 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Diane Arbus Mexican dwarf in his hotel room in N.Y.C., 1970

18 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Diane Arbus Tattooed man at a carnival, Md. 1970

19 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Diane Arbus Untitled (1)

20 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Diane Arbus A young man in curlers at home on West 20 th Street, N.Y.C., 1966

21 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Diane Arbus Masked woman in a wheelchair, Pa. 1970

22 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Diane Arbus Woman in the rose hat, 1966

23 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Diane Arbus Lady bartender at home with a souvenir dog, New Orleans, 1964

24 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Diane Arbus The King and Queen of a Senior Ciitzens Dance, N.Y.C. 1970

25 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Diane Arbus Teenage couple on Hudson Street, N.Y.C. 1963

26 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Diane Arbus A family on their lawn one Sunday in Westchester, NY, 1968:

27 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Diane Arbus A woman with pearl necklace and earrings, N.Y.C. 1967

28 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Diane Arbus Retired man and his wife at home in a nudist camp one morning, N.J. 1963

29 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Diane Arbus A family one evening in a nudist camp, Pa. 1965


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