Diane Arbus: A box of ten photographs

Diane Arbus: A box of ten photographs


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In May 1971, Artforum, bastion of late modernism, featured the work of a photographer for the very first time. On its cover and in a six-page spread, it published selections from Diane Arbus's portfolio, A box of ten photographs. In the words of the magazine's editor and photography skeptic, Philip Leider, "The portfolio changed everything . . . one could no longer deny [photography's] status as art." At the time of Arbus's death, two months later, only four of the intended edition of fifty had been sold. Two had been purchased from Arbus by Richard Avedon (the first for himself, the second as a gift for his friend Mike Nichols); another was purchased by Jasper Johns; and a fourth by Bea Feitler, art director at Harper's
Bazaar. Arbus signed the prints in all four sets; each print was accompanied by an interleaving vellum slip-sheet inscribed with an extended caption. For Feitler, Arbus added an eleventh photograph, A woman with her baby monkey, N.J. 1971.

Acquired by the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC, in 1986—and the only one of the four completed and sold by Arbus that is publicly held—that portfolio is the subject of an exhibition on view at the museum from April through September 2018. This exceptional book replicates the nature of Diane Arbus's original and now legendary object. Smithsonian curator John P. Jacob, who has unearthed a trove of new information in preparing the book and exhibition,
weaves a fascinating tale of the creation, production, and continuing repercussions of this seminal work.

Published by Aperture in association with the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781597114394
Publisher: Aperture Foundation
Publication date: 04/15/2018
Pages: 110
Product dimensions: 11.00(w) x 14.00(h) x (d)

About the Author

Diane Arbus (1923–1971) revolutionized the terms of the art she practiced. Five volumes of her work have been published posthumously and have remained continuously in print: Diane Arbus: An Aperture Monograph (1972), Diane Arbus: Magazine Work (1984), Untitled: Diane Arbus (1995), Diane Arbus: A Chronology (2011), and Diane Arbus Revelations (Random House, 2003).

John P. Jacob is the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s McEvoy Family Curator for Photography; he joined the curatorial staff in 2015. Prior to that, Jacob was vice president and director of the Inge Morath Foundation and program director at the Magnum Foundation’s Legacy Program. John P. Jacob lives in Washington, D.C.

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