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Diane Arbus: An Aperture Monograph Hardcover – Special Edition, 30 Aug 2011

4.8 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 184 pages
  • Publisher: Aperture; Fortieth anniversary ed edition (30 Aug. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1597111740
  • ISBN-13: 978-1597111744
  • Product Dimensions: 28.7 x 24.4 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 900,669 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


Everything that needs to be said has already been said about this book, this record, this heartache, this brave account, this body of evidence. I didn't choose to write about this book because I feel that I can say anything more eloquent than what has already been said... Arbus is able to tell us how much we want and how much we will have and will not have, she manage it in the pages of one monograph.--Laurel Nakadate"The Photobook Review" (04/01/2014) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Format: Paperback
Diane Arbus had a reputation for simply photographing 'freaks'. It is a wholly undeserved reputation and shows, to my mind, a basic misunderstanding of her work. The title of this review is from a line quoted at the beginning of the book and it goes a very long way in explaining what Dianne Arbus is 'about'.

The pictures in this book all portray misinterpretations of the 'normal'. And, as such, they call into question what normal is. It's only when you see someone getting it wrong that you realise that there is something there to get wrong. We go through life blithely accepting the values that are presented to us as fixed, immutable, natural and 'obvious'. But when someone who has that same upbringing, that same life, presents those values slightly skewed, then it highlights the fact that there is a value there, that the value is not a 'given', it is not 'natural'. And at that point, we can change, discard, abuse it. As Arbus says in the introduction:

'Sometimes I can see a photograph or a painting, I see it and I think, That's not the way it is. I don't mean a feeling of, I don't like it. I mean the feeling that this is fantastic, but there's something wrong. I guess it's my own sense of what a fact is'.

So, you might draw a parallel with Bertold Brecht's 'verfremdung' or alienation effect.

The introduction, then, is illuminating. The pictures themselves are beautiful, disturbing and tragic. Roughly in chronological order, from the early 60's up to the early 70's, they hint at a sad journey, ending in Arbus's suicide. The early ones - starting with 'Russian midget friends in a living room on 100th Street, N.Y.C. 1963', through 'Girl with a cigar in Washington Square Park, N.Y.C. 1965', the chilling 'A family on their lawn one Sunday in Westchester, N.Y.
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By schumann_bg TOP 50 REVIEWER on 25 July 2012
Format: Hardcover
Diane Arbus was a little like Nan Goldin in her way of focusing on marginalised people but they were not her friends and the scope is wider, taking in people who don't fit in to society for physical and identity-based reasons, as well as the extravagantly wealthy, and the very 'ordinary' in a few instances. You feel that the tone, while sympathetic, has some kind of ambiguity as well, allowing us to see, in the same image, the person's self-image and the way others might perceive them as well. There is a degree of delusion felt in the photos that makes them quite unique, and the two elements make looking at them a very intense experience and an unforgettable one - has any photographer said so much about humanity? In a world where the proliferation of images has made them largely throwaway, these have a permanence one might more readily associate with bronze sculpture - you feel they are part of the human picture indelibly, and ultimately a great affirmation of our humanity in all its strangeness and contradictions.
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Format: Paperback
A friend working in bookstore asked why I'd never mentioned being in Diane Arbus' "book of freaks". Until that moment I didn't know but of course I knew she'd photographed me. (There's a hint!) It was without a doubt one of the most intense experiences of my life. That she often saw what others could not is reflected on every page. She called her subjects aristocrats. I think you must be one to see that quality in another. The photographs taken thirty years ago are timeless.Although the clothing, hairstyles and makeup are from a definite era (sixties) one can hardly imagine the subjects dressed any other way. Arbus has created a nation of anachronisms in her book. There is a definite sense of family, of community from page to page; from a Brooklyn bedroom to a Greenwich Village park bench to a lawn party at Willowbrook. Someone asked me how it felt to be in this "book of freaks". I couldn't answer then. But now I can: Even if your face is not on the pages of Monograph you will find yourself there. Just look.
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By John P. Jones III TOP 500 REVIEWER on 15 Jan. 2016
Format: Paperback
I’ve had this book of photographs by Diane Arbus for a long time now, and periodically leaf through the pages. I purchased it shortly after its release in 1972. In turn, this book was produced by her friends, in tribute, shortly after her suicide in 1971, at the age of 48. Her photographs are disturbing – profoundly disturbing – and I have never come to terms with her work, or the emotions that they evoke in me. Cindy Sherman is another photographer who takes disturbing pictures, but they are all of her, and they are all staged, in a manner to also disturb and provoke. Arbus’ pictures though, perhaps staged a little bit, are drawn from that very “real world” that we do not often see, probably because we chose not to.

This is another quality production by Aperture Monograph. Full-page, black and white photographs on one side, a brief description, with no further explanation, on the other. There are approximately 100 of them. And the subject matter, in Arbus’ own words, extracts of which appear at the beginning of this work: “Freaks was a thing I photographed a lot… Freaks were born with their trauma. They’ve already passed their test in life. They’re aristocrats.” Her subjects are midgets and giants, transvestites, hermaphrodites and Down’s Syndrome children. Sometimes they are people who consciously choose to be an “outlier” in society, like the nudists. But even with those people who are nominally normal, for example, the picture of four well-dressed people at a gallery opening in NYC, Arbus seems to have a knack for capturing their “freakishness.”

How did she obtain the permission to take these pictures, since in almost every case, the subject is posed, looking straight at the camera? She says: “I think I’m kind of two-faced. I’m very ingratiating.
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