A new retrospective at The Met Breuer features an unprecedented number of never-before-seen photographs by Diane Arbus.
Taxicab Driver at the Wheel with Two Passengers, N.Y.C. 1956
“It’s rare in the case of any great artist that half of their work wouldn’t be known to the general public,” says Met Breuer curator Jeff Rosenheim, who took us inside the museum’s new show “Diane Arbus: In the Beginning,” in which two-thirds of the 105 pictures have never before been seen.
Where did this cache of images come from? Jeff Rosenheim: Diane Arbus [1923–1971] had a darkroom that was separate from her apartment, and it wasn’t until years after she had died that these early photographs were found. When MoMA did that retrospective a year after her death, these pictures hadn’t been discovered yet.
How did this exhibit come about? JR: In 2007, Arbus’s daughters, Joon and Amy Arbus, chose The Met to be the repository for their mother’s work. This is our first major project to be drawn from that collection.
What is distinct about these early photos? JR: Most people know her for the work she began in 1962 with a square-format camera. This exhibition looks at the work from the first seven years of her career, when she primarily used a 35mm camera. While there’s a difference in formats, the themes, subjects, and approach are somewhat indistinguishable from beginning to end. Arbus was already a mature artist when she started taking photographs at the age of 33. July 12 to November 27 at The Met Breuer, 945 Madison Ave., 212-731-1675