Diane Arbus’ Early, Lesser Known Photographs to Be Exhibited at the Met Breuer

The New York Times reports that a Diane Arbus not many knew will be revealed through her earliest photographic work in Diane Arbus: In The Beginning, an exhibit set to premiere at the recently opened Met Breuer (which occupies the Whitney’s former location) on July 12th. This exhibit will show over 100 images – many not previously exhibited — from the infancy of Arbus’ career, preceding the work for which she is most widely known. As the Times notes, the show happens to be opening just after the publication Arthur Lubow’s unauthorized biography, Diane Arbus: Portrait of a Photographer. 

Most of Arbus’ early photography was shot on 35mm film, and though the seven years (1956-1962) that the exhibit will cover predominantly encompass her less iconic work, nearly half of her photographs happen to have been taken during this time. The exceptional photographer learned the art form from her husband, Allan Arbus, who was a fashion photographer turned actor. These works will likely help reveal her original influences, and perhaps a burgeoning interest in otherness as a key theme in her portraiture. 

Discussing Arbus’ work, the Met’s Curator in Charge of the Department of Photographs, Jeff Rosenheim said in a statement:

Arbus’s early photographs are wonderfully rich in achievement and perhaps as quietly riveting and ultimately controversial as the iconic images for which she is so widely known. She brings us face-to-face with what she had first glimpsed at the age of 16—‘the divineness in ordinary things’—and through her photographs we begin to see it too.