Diane Arbus may seem like a strange sort of girlhood heroine, but ever since I discovered a large book of her collected works at my babysitter’s house when I was about seven years old, I was captivated by her particular vision of the world.
It wasn’t just her somewhat voyeuristic preference for depicting the so-called ‘freaks and geeks’ of society that piqued my curiosity. It was also the uniquely romantic and melancholic mood that permeates every shot, which made me realize that art can be found in the everyday, if you have an eye for it. Arbus’ brave and startling images revealed to me that the real world is as strange, startling and wonderful as any fairytale or movie, if not more so. Her brilliance was to befriend often-marginalized people and to become intimate with them to the point that she was able to capture everybody unmasked.
Her story also appealed my nascent interest in the bohemian myth of the tragic, brilliant, unconventional, tortured artist who, like Sylvia Plath, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, and Jimi Hendrix, represented a creative soul who was ultimately too beautiful and fragile to survive in the harshness of life, but whose work has outlived and influenced many.
For more information, check out a virtual scrapbook of her work.
Tomorrow, visit us to learn about a heroine whose life and disappearance still fascinates us to this day.