Diane Arbus collectibles



2015-06-26 10:54:21

Diana Arbus (1923 – 1971) was a US photographer. She is best known for her black and white photographs of unusual human subjects and has been called “the photographer of freaks”, a phrase she disliked. Controversy surrounded Arbus’s photographs. Writer Norman Mailar commented: “Giving a camera to Diane Arbus is like putting a live grenade in the hands of a child.”

Diane Arbus photographs are regularly the subject of exhibitions, and sell for six figure sums at auction.


Arbus was born in New York City to wealthy Jewish parents in 1923. At the age of 18 she married photographer Allan Arbus, who became a well-known actor, appearing in the television series MAS*H. The couple separated in 1958.

Diane’s interest in photography was piqued by a visit to the gallery of Alfred Stieglitz in 1941 and Diane and Allan established a photography company in 1946.

Diane came to prominence in the 1960s. She was famed for her black-and-white, square pictures which often depicted the more unusual aspects of society, such as giants, dwarfs and transvestites.

She committed suicide in 1971.

Notable work

Child with Toy Hand Grenade in Central Park was taken in 1962. It portrays a young boy pulling a face while clutching a toy hand grenade.

A Young Man in Curlers at Home on West 20th Street, N.Y.C. was taken by Arbus in 1966. It provoked a violent reaction among members of the public when it was exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in 1967.

Identical Twins, Roselle, N.J. 1967 depicts a pair of identical twins in New Jersey. One of them smiling, the other not.

A Jewish Giant at home with his parents, 1970, portrays giant Eddie Carmel, who worked in carnival sideshows and appeared in a small number of films.

Notable sales of Diane Arbus photography

  • A print of Jewish Giant at home with his parents, 1967, sold for $421,000 at Christie’s New York in October 2007.

  • A print Child with Toy Hand Grenade in Central Park sold for $408,000 at Christie’s New York in 2005.

  • A print of Identical Twins, Roselle, N.J. 1967 achieved $478,400 at Sotheby’s New York in April 2004.

  • A print of A Family On The Lawn One Sunday In Westchester, N.Y. (1968) sold for $553,000 at a Sotheby’s New York auction in April 2008.


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