Diane Arbus

American photographer (1923–1971)

Diane Arbus (/diːˈæn ˈɑːrbəs/; March 14, 1923 – July 26, 1971) was an American photographer.


  • "A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you, the less you know."[1][2]:219[3]
  • "My favorite thing is to go where I've never been."[4]:1[5][6][7]
  • "Our whole guise is like giving a sign to the world to think of us in a certain way, but there's a point between what you want people to know about you and what you can't help people knowing about you. And that has to do with what I've always called the gap between intention and effect."[8][9][10][11][4]:1–2
  • "Freaks was a thing I photographed a lot....There's a quality of legend about freaks. Like a person in a fairy tale who stops you and demands that you answer a riddle. Most people go through life dreading they'll have a traumatic experience. Freaks were born with their trauma. They've already passed their test in life. They're aristocrats."[12][9][13]


  • "I do feel I have some slight corner on something about the quality of things. I mean it's very subtle and a little embarrassing to me, but I believe there are things which nobody would see unless I photographed them."[9][15][16][17][4]:15
  • "It's always seemed to me that photography tends to deal with facts whereas film tends to deal with fiction. The best example I know is when you go to the movies and you see two people in bed, you're willing to put aside the fact that you perfectly well know that there was a director and a cameraman and assorted lighting people all in that same room and the two people in bed weren't really alone. But when you look at a photograph, you can never put that aside."[18][4]:6
  • "Everybody has that thing where they need to look one way but they come out looking another way and that's what people observe. You see someone on the street and essentially what you notice about them is the flaw."[18][4]:1
  • "They are the proof that something was there and no longer is. Like a stain. And the stillness of them is boggling. You can turn away but when you come back they'll still be there looking at you."[2]:226[19]:51
  • "I never have taken a picture I've intended. They're always better or worse."[4]:15
  • "For me the subject of the picture is always more important than the picture. And more complicated. I do have a feeling for the print but I don't have a holy feeling for it. I really think what it is, is what it's about. I mean it has to be of something. And what it's of is always more remarkable than what it is."[4]:15
  • "Nothing is ever the same as they said it was. It's what I've never seen before that I recognize."[20][2]:219
  • "I work from awkwardness. By that I mean I don't like to arrange things. If I stand in front of something, instead of arranging it, I arrange myself."[4]:12[21]

Quotes about

  • She was really terrific...Diane was one of the first female role models I ever had that didn’t wash the floor six times a day. I liked her as a teacher.


  1. Estrin, James (8 March 2018). "Diane Arbus, 1923-1971". The New York Times. Retrieved on 6 November 2018. 
  2. a b c Diane Arbus: Revelations. New York: Random House, 2003. ISBN 0-375-50620-9.
  3. (24 April 2018)"A Window into the World of Diane Arbus: Photographs from the portfolio, "A box of 10," reveal photographer's secrets". Retrieved on 13 November 2018.
  4. a b c d e f g h i Arbus, Diane (1972). Diane Arbus: An Aperture Monograph. New York: Aperture. ISBN 978-0912334400. 
  5. Arbus, Diane. Diane Arbus. Millerton, New York: Aperture, 1972. ISBN 0-912334-40-1.
  6. DeCarlo, Tessa (May 2004). "A Fresh Look at Diane Arbus". Smithsonian magazine. Retrieved December 13, 2017.
  7. Hughes, Robert. "Art: to Hades with Lens". Time, November 13, 1972. Retrieved February 12, 2010.
  8. Rubinfien, Leo. "Where Diane Arbus Went". Art in America, volume 93, number 9, pages 65–71, 73, 75, 77, October 2005.
  9. a b c Sass, Louis A. "'Hyped on Clarity': Diane Arbus and the Postmodern Condition". Raritan, volume 25, number 1, pp. 1–37, Summer 2005.
  10. Goldman, Judith. "Diane Arbus: The Gap Between Intention and Effect". Art Journal, volume 34, issue 1, pages 30–35, Fall 1974.
  11. Fox, Catherine. "Snapshot/Diane Arbus: True Portrait Lies Outside Film." The Atlanta Journal Constitution Dec 03 2006 ProQuest. 2 Mar. 2017
  12. Schjeldahl, Peter. "Looking Back: Diane Arbus at the Met", The New Yorker, March 21, 2005. Retrieved February 4, 2010.
  13. Kimmelman, Michael (11 March 2005). "The Profound Vision of Diane Arbus: Flaws in Beauty, Beauty in Flaws". The New York Times. Retrieved on 1 November 2018. 
  14. Greer, Germaine. "Wrestling with Diane Arbus". The Guardian, October 8, 2005. Retrieved February 3, 2010.
  15. Lacayo, Richard. "Photography: Diane Arbus: Visionary Voyeurism". Time magazine, November 3, 2003. Retrieved February 12, 2010.
  16. Armstrong, Carol. "Biology, Destiny, Photography: Difference According to Diane Arbus". October, volume 66, pages 28–54, Autumn 1993.
  17. Feeney, Mark. "She Opened Our Eyes. Photographer Diane Arbus Presented a New Way of Seeing." Boston Globe, November 2, 2003. Retrieved February 15, 2010.
  18. a b Kimmelman, Michael (9 January 2004). "Diane Arbus, a Hunter Wielding a Lens". The New York Times. Retrieved on 7 November 2018. 
  19. Jacob, John P. (2018). A box of ten photographs. New York: Aperture. ISBN 978-1597114394. 
  20. (May 1971)"Five Photographs by Diane Arbus". Artforum 9 (9). Retrieved on 13 November 2018.
  21. (26 September 2011)"Arbus Speaks". Retrieved on 19 November 2018.
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