Monday, January 2, 2012

76. Diane Arbus

Went to the most amazing photography exhibit I've ever seen the other day at the Jeu de Paume in the Tuileries gardens. Diane Arbus is one of my favorite B&W film photographers and she was the aunt of my art history teacher, Alex Nemerov. While she is most known for her photographs of "freaks"--circus performers, transvestites, nudists, etc.--I'm most drawn to her photographs of more traditional subject matters and how she was able to make them still haunting and strange and "freaks" in their own beautiful, aesthetic way.

The exhibit laid out her work extremely effectively. Her (many) photographs were hung with no narrative arrangement or accompanying text in the first few rooms to let you experience them with no bias. The only information provided was the original title Diane gave each photograph, which usually revealed her deadpan sense of humor (a personal favorite of ours was "Fat girl yawning"). Then the final two rooms were dedicated to a biographical documentation of Diane's life, including photos and objects as personal as accidental self portraits, excerpts from her high school essays, and moleskin notebooks filled with lists of prospective subjects in illegible script. 

(Had no idea this photo would be at the exhibit--I have LOVED this photo for so long and could not tear myself away when I was standing right in front of it.)

The whole exhibit was so moving and effective and strangely personal. We ended up staying an hour longer than we planned to and I'm so glad we did. I wish I had more photos to post to do it justice, but literally every single picture in this post was taken illegally since there was no photography allowed ;). They caught and scolded me FIVE times (each time, "Oh! Sorry! Didnt know!" O:) hehe) and finally the fifth guard threatened to throw me out! So worth it though, so so worth it.

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