"A Photograph Is a Secret About a Secret. The More it Tells You the Less You Know." -- Diane Arbus

Diane Arbus (revolutionized the art she practiced. Her bold subject matter and photographic approach produced a body of work that is often shocking in its purity.
10/06/2011 04:03 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Diane Arbus (New York, 1923-1971) revolutionized the art she practiced. Her bold subject matter and photographic approach produced a body of work that is often shocking in its purity -- in its steadfast celebration of things as they are.

Arbus found most of her subjects in New York City, a place that she explored as both a known geography and as a foreign land, photographing people she discovered during the 1950s and 1960s. Her contemporary anthropology -- portraits of couples, children, carnival performers, nudists, middle-class families, transvestites, zealots, eccentrics, and celebrities -- stands as an allegory of the human experience, an exploration of the relationship between appearance and identity, illusion and belief, theater and reality.

In this first major retrospective in France, Jeu de Paume presents a selection of two hundred photographs, including all of the artist's iconic photographs as well as many that have never been publicly exhibited. Even the earliest examples of her work demonstrate Arbus's distinctive sensibility through the expression on a face, someone's posture, the character of the light, and the personal implications of objects in a room or landscape.

"
I really believe there are things which nobody would see unless I photographed them."
-- Diane Arbus
Identical twins, Roselle, N.J. 1967
Copyright © The Estate of Diane Arbus 
Untitled (6) 1970-71
Copyright © The Estate of Diane Arbus
Teenage couple on Hudson Street, N.Y.C. 1963Copyright © The Estate of Diane Arbus
Child with a toy hand grenade in Central Park, N.Y.C. 1962Copyright © The Estate of Diane Arbus
Boy with a straw hat waiting to march in a pro-war parade, N.Y.C. 1967Copyright © The Estate of Diane Arbus
A young man in curlers at home on West 20th Street, N.Y.C. 1966Copyright © The Estate of Diane Arbus
Xmas tree in a living room in Levittown, Long Island 1963Copyright © The Estate of Diane Arbus
Courtesy Jeu de Paume, Paris, France
Diane Arbus
Oct. 18, 2011 - Feb. 5, 2012
Jeu de Paume, Paris