Exhibitions: Diane Arbus

Yesterday I caught the Diane Arbus photography retrospective at the V&A. It was quite an amazing and fairly extensive exhibition of her work. Arbus was famous for her photographs mostly shot in New York from the sixties up until her suicide in 1971. The exhibition originated in San Francisco MOMA and at the moment you can't go anywhere on the tube without the V&A's ad for the show featuring an Arbus photo of a drag queen holding a cigarette, mouth partly open and hair in rollers. Don't know if that sort of imagery will bring the punters in but it certainly grabs your attention underground…

At the exhibition there were quite a lot of photographs to get through in the hour I set aside to see it. The exhibition also included letters, proofs and other paraphernalia relating to her life and gave some insight into the inspiration for her photographs of eccentric yet everyday scenes. You don't get much of a sense of why she may have killed herself at the age of 48 (although her living conditions around the 1970s looked a bit dire) but you do get a great sense of her perspective.

And it became apparent to me that her iconic photographs from this period were recognisable even before realising who the hell she was. Fortunately there is a Nicole Kidman film in the works based on an unauthorised biography. The film is tentatively titled Fur so no doubt with a title like that rampant lesbianism will feature (which was something that wasn't touched upon in the exhibition either)…

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