David Wojnarowicz Retrospective At The Whitney Explores The Enduring Resonance Of An Artist Who Merged The Personal And The Political

This summer, the most complete presentation to date of the work of artist, writer, and activist David Wojnarowicz will be on view in a full-scale retrospective organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art. David Wojnarowicz: History Keeps Me Awake at Night is the first major re-evaluation since 1999 of one of the most fervent and essential voices of his generation.

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David Wojnarowicz with Tom Warren, Self-Portrait of David Wojnarowicz, 1983–84. Acrylic and collaged paper on gelatin silver print, 60 × 40 in. (152.4 × 101.6 cm). Collection of Brooke Garber Neidich and Daniel Neidich, Photograph by Ron Amstutz. (The exhibition is organized by David Breslin, DeMartini Family Curator and Director of the Collection, and David Kiehl, Curator Emeritus, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.)

Opening at the Whitney on July 13 and running through September 30, David Wojnarowicz: History Keeps Me Awake at Night features more than a hundred works by the artist and is organized by two Whitney curators, David Breslin, DeMartini Family Curator and Director of the Collection, and David Kiehl, Curator Emeritus. The exhibition, which will be installed in the Museum’s fifth floor Neil Bluhm Family Galleries through September 30, draws upon the scholarly resources of the Fales Library and Special Collections (NYU), the repository of Wojnarowicz’s archive, and is also built on the foundation of the Whitney’s extensive holdings of Wojnarowicz’s work, including thirty works from the Museum’s collection. It will travel to the Museo Reina Sofía, Madrid, in May 2019, and to Mudam Luxembourg – Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean, Luxembourg City, in November 2019.

Scott Rothkopf, Deputy Director for Programs and Nancy and Steve Crown Family Chief Curator, remarked, “Since his death more than twenty-five years ago, David Wojnarowicz has become an almost mythic figure, haunting, inspiring, and calling to arms subsequent generations through his inseparable artistic and political examples. This retrospective will enable so many to confront for the first time, or anew, the groundbreaking multidisciplinary body of work on which his legacy actually stands.”

Beginning in the late 1970s, David Wojnarowicz (1954–1992) created a body of work that spanned photography, painting, music, film, sculpture, writing, performance, and activism. Joining a lineage of iconoclasts, Wojnarowicz (pronounced Voyna-ROW-vich) saw the outsider as his true subject. His mature period began with a series of photographs and collages that honored—and placed himself among—consummate countercultural figures like Arthur Rimbaud, William Burroughs, and Jean Genet. Even as he became well-known in the East Village art scene for his mythological paintings, Wojnarowicz remained committed to writing personal essays. Queer and HIV-positive, Wojnarowicz became an impassioned advocate for people with AIDS at a time when an inconceivable number of friends, lovers, and strangers—disproportionately gay men—were dying from the disease and from government inaction.

After hitchhiking across the U.S. and living for several months in San Francisco, and then in Paris, David Wojnarowicz settled in New York in 1978 and soon after began to exhibit his work in East Village galleries. Largely self-taught, Wojnarowicz came to prominence in New York in the 1980s, a period marked by great creative energy and profound cultural changes. Intersecting movements—graffiti, new and no wave music, conceptual photography, performance, neo-expressionist painting—made New York a laboratory for innovation. Unlike many artists, Wojnarowicz refused a signature style, adopting a wide variety of techniques with an attitude of radical possibility. Distrustful of inherited structures, a feeling amplified by the resurgence of conservative politics, Wojnarowicz varied his repertoire to better infiltrate the culture.

His essay for the catalog accompanying the exhibition Witnesses: Against Our Vanishing (curated by Nan Goldin at Artists Space in 1989–90) came under fire for its vitriolic attack on politicians and leaders who were preventing AIDS treatment and awareness. The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) threatened to defund the exhibition, and Wojnarowicz fought against this and for the first amendment rights of artists. Continue reading

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Columbia University President Announces The Winners of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize

(All Images Provided by The Communications Office of the Pulitzer Prizes)

The 2018 Pulitzer Prize winners in 14 journalism and seven letters, drama and music categories were announced on Monday, April 16 at 3 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. The formal announcement of the prizes, made each April, states that the awards are made by the president of Columbia University on the recommendation of the Pulitzer Prize board. This formulation is derived from the Joseph Pulitzer will, which established Columbia as the seat of the administration of the prizes. Today, in fact, the independent board makes all the decisions relative to the prizes. In his will, Pulitzer bestowed an endowment on Columbia of $2,000,000 for the establishment of a School of Journalism, one-fourth of which was to be “applied to prizes or scholarships for the encouragement of public service, public morals, American literature, and the advancement of education.

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The Pulitzer Prize logo

In doing so, he stated: “I am deeply interested in the progress and elevation of journalism, having spent my life in that profession, regarding it as a noble profession and one of unequaled importance for its influence upon the minds and morals of the people. I desire to assist in attracting to this profession young men of character and ability, also to help those already engaged in the profession to acquire the highest moral and intellectual training.” In his ascent to the summit of American journalism, Pulitzer himself received little or no assistance. He prided himself on being a self-made man, but it may have been his struggles as a young journalist that imbued him with the desire to foster professional training.”

The iconic Pulitzer Prize Gold Medal is awarded each year to the American news organization that wins the Public Service category. It is never awarded to an individual. However, through the years, the Medal has come to symbolize the entire Pulitzer program.

In 1918, a year after the Prizes began, the medal was designed by sculptor Daniel Chester French and his associate Henry Augustus Lukeman. French later gained fame for his seated Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. One side of the medal displays the profile of Benjamin Franklin, apparently based on the bust by French sculptor Jean-Antoine Houdon. Decorating the other side is a husky, bare-chested printer at work, his shirt draped across the end of a press. Surrounding the printer are the words: “For disinterested and meritorious public service rendered by an American newspaper during the year….

The name of the winning news organization is inscribed on the Franklin side of the medal. The year of the award is memorialized on the other side.

The 2018 Prize winners are:

Journalism

Public Service

The New York Times, for reporting led by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, and The New Yorker, for reporting by Ronan Farrow

For explosive, impactful journalism that exposed powerful and wealthy sexual predators, including allegations against one of Hollywood’s most influential producers, bringing them to account for long-suppressed allegations of coercion, brutality and victim silencing, thus spurring a worldwide reckoning about sexual abuse of women.

Breaking News Reporting

Staff of The Press-Democrat, Santa Rosa, Calif.

For lucid and tenacious coverage of historic wildfires that ravaged the city of Santa Rosa and Sonoma County, expertly utilizing an array of tools, including photography, video and social media platforms, to bring clarity to its readers — in real time and in subsequent in-depth reporting.

Investigative Reporting

Staff of The Washington Post

For purposeful and relentless reporting that changed the course of a Senate race in Alabama by revealing a candidate’s alleged past sexual harassment of teenage girls and subsequent efforts to undermine the journalism that exposed it.

Explanatory Reporting

Staffs of The Arizona Republic and USA Today Network

For vivid and timely reporting that masterfully combined text, video, podcasts and virtual reality to examine, from multiple perspectives, the difficulties and unintended consequences of fulfilling President Trump’s pledge to construct a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico.

Local Reporting

The Cincinnati Enquirer Staff

For a riveting and insightful narrative and video documenting seven days of greater Cincinnati’s heroin epidemic, revealing how the deadly addiction has ravaged families and communities.

National Reporting

Staffs of The New York Times and The Washington Post

For deeply sourced, relentlessly reported coverage in the public interest that dramatically furthered the nation’s understanding of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and its connections to the Trump campaign, the President-elect’s transition team and his eventual administration. (The New York Times entry, submitted in this category, was moved into contention by the Board and then jointly awarded the Prize.)

International Reporting

Clare Baldwin, Andrew R.C. Marshall and Manuel Mogato of Reuters

For relentless reporting that exposed the brutal killing campaign behind Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.

Feature Writing

Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah, freelance reporter, GQ

Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah (Feature Writing)

Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah (Feature Writing)

For an unforgettable portrait of murderer Dylann Roof, using a unique and powerful mix of reportage, first-person reflection and analysis of the historical and cultural forces behind his killing of nine people inside Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C. Continue reading

“The Newest Americans” Exploring Citizenship & Immigration In The Trump Era Opened April 3 At The California Museum

New Exhibit Capturing Experiences Of Immigrants Prompts Discussion On The American Dream Through July 8th Before Embarking On A 5-Year National Tour

Following the 2016 election, America’s political climate was polarized by the Trump Administration’s efforts to build a border wall, enact a Muslim ban and enforce mass deportations. Against this backdrop, photographer Sam Comen with interviews by Michael Estrin set out to capture the experiences of new Americans in the moments following their naturalization after two Los Angeles, CA ceremonies held in February and March of 2017. Their resulting portraits and interviews led to the development of “The Newest Americans” as a traveling exhibit created in partnership with the California Museum.logo

The California Museum’s  The Newest Americans,” exploring U.S. citizenship and immigration in the era of President Donald J. Trump, is now open. The new exhibit prompts discussion on America’s legacy as a nation of immigrants and the future of the American dream through July 8, 2018, before embarking on a 5-year national tour managed by Exhibit Envoy.

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Maria Teresa Cervantes (right), country of origin Mexico, pictured with daughter Lorraine (left) and grandson Jonathan Anda (center). CREDIT: By Sam Comen, courtesy of photographer.

I commend the California Museum for presenting an exhibit examining the immigrant experience at this critical time in California and U.S. history,” said Secretary of State and Museum Board of Trustee Alex Padilla. “The display prompts much-needed discussion on civic engagement, citizenship, and civil rights, as the Trump administration enacts restrictive immigration policies that not only impacts families, but all California communities.”

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Breznil Ashton, country of origin St. Vincent & the Grenadines. CREDIT: By Sam Comen, courtesy of photographer.

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Maria Villagordoa, country of origin Mexico. CREDIT: By Sam Comen, courtesy of photographer

Illustrating a range of ages and walks of life, the 28 exhibit participants represent 23 countries of origin, including Mexico, Rwanda, China, Russia, and Syria. The exhibit includes photographs accompanied by text panels presented in English and Spanish sharing the subjects’ views on why they chose to become American citizens and what the American dream means to them.

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Caixia Yang Phillipe, country of origin China. CREDIT: By Sam Comen, courtesy of photographer

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Michael Jordan, country of origin Canada. CREDIT: By Sam Comen, courtesy of photographer.

Highlights include: Continue reading

‘Modern Times: American Art 1910-1950’ at The Philadelphia Museum of Art

The Exhibition Explores The Creative Responses Of American Artists To The Rapid Pace Of Change During The Early Twentieth Century And The New Visual Language That Emerged.

From the Lake No. 3, 1924, by Georgia O'Keeffe

From the Lake No. 3, 1924, by Georgia O’Keeffe, American, 1887 – 1986. Oil on canvas, 36 x 30 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art: Bequest of Georgia O’Keeffe for the Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1987-70-2.

This spring, the Philadelphia Museum of Art will present an exhibition exploring the creative responses of American artists to the rapid pace of change that occurred in this country during the early decades of the twentieth century. Modern Times: American Art 1910–1950 (April 18—September 3, 2018, Dorrance Special Exhibition Galleries, first floor) examines the new and dynamic visual language that emerged during this period and had a dramatic impact on painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography, architecture and the decorative arts.PMAhorizontal

These developments were shaped by the dizzying transformations then occurring in every aspect of life, from the advent of the automobile and moving pictures to the rapid growth of American cities and the wrenching economic change brought on by the advent of the Great Depression after a decade of unprecedented prosperity. The exhibition will feature important works by those artists—Georgia O’Keeffe, Marsden Hartley, Arthur Dove, and John Marin, among them—championed by the great photographer and gallerist Alfred Stieglitz, as well as many other notable figures of this period. Modern Times will be drawn almost entirely from the Museum’s renowned collection, especially the gift from the Stieglitz Collection that it received in the late 1940s, and will contain some 160 works, several of which will be on view for the first time.

Sixth Avenue and Thirtieth Street, 1907, by John Sloan

Sixth Avenue and Thirtieth Street, 1907, by John Sloan, American, 1871 – 1951. Oil on canvas, 24 1/4 x 32 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art: Gift of Meyer P. Potamkin and Vivian O. Potamkin, 2000. 1964-116-5. The White Way, c. 1926, by John Sloan, American, 1871 – 1951. Oil on canvas, 30 1/8 x 32 1/4 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art: Gift of Mrs. Cyrus McCormick, 1946-10-2.

Burlesque, c. 1922, by Thomas Hart Benton

Burlesque, c. 1922, by Thomas Hart Benton, American, 1889 – 1975. Tempera on panel, 9 1/2x 12 1/2 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art: Bequest of Edward Suckle, M.D., 2002-91-1. © T. H. Benton and R. P. Benton Testamentary Trusts / UMB Bank Trustee / Licensed by VAGA, New York.

A.D. 1914, 1914, by May Ray, American

A.D. 1914, 1914, by May Ray, American, 1890 – 1976. Oil on canvas, 36 7/8 x 69 3/4 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art: A. E. Gallatin Collection, 1944-90-1.

Timothy Rub, the Museum’s George D. Widener Director, and Chief Executive Officer, stated: “America’s embrace of modern life—its perils as well as its promise—in the early twentieth century was expressed most clearly in the arts. The work of this period still feels fresh and of the moment. This exhibition provides us with a welcome opportunity to reassess the Museum’s exceptionally rich holdings of modern American art and how we may display them to full advantage in the future when the Museum completes its expansion under its Master Plan. It also holds the promise of many surprises and discoveries for our visitors.”

Birds in Flight, c. 1927-1929, by Aaron Douglas

Birds in Flight, c. 1927-1929, by Aaron Douglas, American, 1899 – 1979. Oil on canvas, 16 1/4 x 14 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art: Gift of Marguerite and Gerry Lenfest in honor of Anne d’Harnoncourt, 2015-7-1. © Heirs of Aaron Douglas / Licensed by VAGA, New York

Chinese Music, 1923, by Arthur Dove

Chinese Music, 1923, by Arthur Dove, American, 1880 -1946. Oil and metallic paint on panel, 21 11/16 x 18 1/8 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art: The Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1949-18-2.

Painting No. 4 (A Black Horse), 1915, by Marsden Hartley

Painting No. 4 (A Black Horse), 1915, by Marsden Hartley, American, 1877 -1943. Oil on canvas, 39 1/4 x 31 5/8 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art: The Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1949-18-8

Pertaining to Yachts and Yachting, 1922, by Charles Sheeler

Pertaining to Yachts and Yachting, 1922, by Charles Sheeler, American, 1883 – 1965. Oil on canvas, 20 x 24 1/16 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art: Bequest of Margaretta S. Hinchman, 1955-96-9.

While the Museum has presented a number of exhibitions devoted to this subject over the years, Modern Times is the largest and most comprehensive since it presented the collection of Alfred Stieglitz in 1944. The exhibition opens with the achievements of some of the leading figures of “The Eight,” including John Sloan and George Bellows, who recorded the changing urban scene with a gritty realism as horse carts gave way to motor vehicles on city streets.

Portrait of Carl Zigrosser (1891 – 1975), c. 1928, by Alexander Calder

Portrait of Carl Zigrosser (1891 – 1975), c. 1928, by Alexander Calder, American, 1898 – 1976. wire, 14 x 10 1/2 x 10 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art: Purchased with the Lola Downin Peck Fund from the Carl and Laura Zigrosser Collection, 1980-3-141. © Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Portrait of James Baldwin, 1945, by Beauford Delaney

Portrait of James Baldwin, 1945, by Beauford Delaney, American (active Paris), 1901 – 1979. Oil on canvas, 22 x 18 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art: 125th Anniversary Acquisition. Purchased with funds contributed by The Daniel W. Dietrich Foundation in memory of Joseph C. Bailey and with a grant from The Judith Rothschild Foundation, 1998-3-1

Portrait of John with Hat, 1935, by Alice Neel

Portrait of John with Hat, 1935, by Alice Neel, American, 1900 – 1984. Oil on canvas, 23 1/2 x 21 1/2 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art: Gift of the estate of Arthur M. Bullowa, 1993-119-2.

PSFS Building, Philadelphia, c.1932 - 1933, by Lloyd Ullberg

PSFS Building, Philadelphia, c.1932 – 1933, by Lloyd Ullberg, American, 1904-1996. Gelatin silver print, image and sheet:10 x 7 3/8 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art: Purchased with the Lola Downin Peck Fund, 1999-121-3.

The exhibition emphasizes those artists—among them Charles Demuth, Morton Schamberg, Charles Sheeler, Benton Spruance, and Paul Strand—who responded to the Armory Show of 1913 and the influence of the European avant-garde by seeking to give modernism an authentic American voice. Offering a broader perspective on American art of this period, the exhibition explores the achievements of important African American figures, such as Aaron Douglas, William Edmondson, Horace Pippin and Dox Thrash. It also looks at cross-currents within the arts, including contemporary fashion and design, and work by female artists such as O’Keeffe, Florine Stettheimer, Frances Simpson Stevens, Kay Sage, and Dorothea Tanning. Continue reading

New Exhibition Explores Lost And Censured Murals Of Los Angeles That Exposed Unequal Treatment Of Mexicans And Mexican Americans

¡Murales Rebeldes! L.A. Chicana/o Murals under Siege” provides a historical backdrop to issues of social justice that continue to plague California and the nation today

Murals became an essential form of artist response and public voice during the Chicana/o Movement of the 1960s and 1970s. They were a means of challenging the status quo and expressing both pride and frustration at a time when other channels of communication were limited for the Mexican American community. Because they threatened established authority, Chicana/o murals were often censored, neglected, whitewashed, or destroyed.

California Historical Society Murales Rebeldes

New Exhibition, “¡Murales Rebeldes! L.A. Chicano/a Murals under Siege”, Explores Lost And Censured Murals Of Los Angeles That Exposed Unequal Treatment Of Mexicans And Mexican Americans. (PRNewsfoto/California Historical Society).

The California Historical Society presents its latest exhibition and companion publication,“¡Murales Rebeldes! L.A. Chicano/a Murals under Siege”, which provides an important historical backdrop to issues of social justice that sparked outrage in California more than a half-century ago and continue today and provides insight to similar injustice that plague today’s socio-political environment. ¡Murales Rebeldes! will be on view at the galleries of the California Historical Society, located at 678 Mission Street in San Francisco, from April 7 to September 16, 2018. Continue reading

“No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man” Opens March 30 at Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery

Exhibition Brings Large-Scale Installations From Famed Desert Gathering to Washington

Cutting-edge artwork created at Burning Man, the annual desert gathering that is one of the most influential events in contemporary art and culture, will be exhibited in the nation’s capital for the first time this spring. “No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man” will take over the entire Renwick Gallery building, exploring the maker culture, ethos, principles and creative spirit of Burning Man. Several artists will debut new works in the exhibition. In addition to the in-gallery presentation, the Renwick exhibition will expand beyond its walls for the first time through an outdoor extension titled “No Spectators: Beyond the Renwick,” displaying sculptures throughout the surrounding neighborhood.

Michael Garlington and Natalia Bertotti, Totem of Confessions, 2015. Photo by Daniel L Hayes.

Michael Garlington and Natalia Bertotti, Totem of Confessions, 2015. Photo by Daniel L Hayes.

Burning Man is both a cultural movement and a thriving temporary city of more than 75,000 people that rises out of the dust for a single week each year in late summer in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. During that time, enormous experimental art installations are erected, some of which are then ritually burned to the ground. The desert gathering is a uniquely American hotbed of artistic ingenuity, driving innovation through its philosophies of radical self-expression, community participation, rejection of commodification and reverence for the handmade.

The scale, the communal effort and the technical challenges inherent in creating works for the desert are part of what sets Burning Man apart from other art experiences,” said Stephanie Stebich, The Margaret and Terry Stent Director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. “It is an amazingly creative laboratory where innovators go to play and to push the boundaries of their craft. Displaying the art of Burning Man at the Renwick is the latest example of our focus on new directions in craft and making.”

FoldHaus, Shrumen Lumen, 2016. Photo by Rene Smith.

FoldHaus, Shrumen Lumen, 2016. Photo by Rene Smith.

Nora Atkinson, the museum’s Lloyd Herman Curator of Craft, is organizing the exhibition in collaboration with the Burning Man Project, the nonprofit organization responsible for producing the annual Burning Man event in Black Rock City, for facilitating and extending the culture that has issued from Burning Man into the wider world and for cultivating its principles reflecting an immediate, non-commercial and participatory culture. The outdoor extension of the exhibition is presented in partnership with Washington, D.C.’s Golden Triangle Business Improvement District, a 43-square-foot neighborhood that stretches from the White House to Dupont Circle. The Burning Man community across the globe was instrumental in suggesting artworks for inclusion in the exhibition.

No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man” opens March 30, 2018. The Renwick is the sole venue for the exhibition, which will close in two phases. The first floor will showcase works by Candy Chang, Marco Cochrane, Duane Flatmo, Michael Garlington and Natalia Bertotti, Five Ton Crane Arts Collective, Scott Froschauer, Android Jones and Richard Wilks and will close Sept. 16, 2018. The second floor, featuring works by David Best, FoldHaus Art Collective, Aaron Taylor Kuffner, HYBYCOZO (Yelena Filipchuk and Serge Beaulieu), Christopher Schardt and Leo Villareal, will remain on view through Jan. 21, 2019. “No Spectators: Beyond the Renwick,” will be presented in the surrounding neighborhood through December 2018. Continue reading

“Diane Arbus: A box of ten photographs” Opens April 6 at the Smithsonian American Art Museum

Exhibition Examines A Rare Portfolio Presented In Its Entirety For The First Time

Diane Arbus (1923—1971) was one of the most original and influential artists of the 20th century. “Diane Arbus: A box of ten photographs” forges new ground as the first exhibition to focus on the portfolio Arbus was working on at the end of her life. This heretofore missing piece from her biography was as important to her evolving artistic identity as it was to the broader public recognition of photography as a fine-art practice. Central to the transition Arbus was making away from magazine work at the time of her death, the portfolio bridges a lifetime of modest recognition with a posthumous career of extraordinary acclaim.

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Photo Credit: Diane Arbus, A woman with her baby monkey, N.J. 1971, 1971, gelatin silver print, 14 7/8 x 15 in. Smithsonian American Art Museum; Museum purchase. © The Estate of Diane Arbus

Diane Arbus: A box of ten photographs” is on view from April 6, 2018, to Jan. 21, 2019, at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. The exhibition is organized by John Jacob, the McEvoy Family Curator for Photography. The museum is the only venue for the exhibition.

Having started her career as a studio photographer with her husband Allan Arbus, Diane Arbus quit the studio in 1956 and later studied with Lisette Model at the New School in New York City. She became a magazine photographer, working on assignment for high-profile periodicals including Esquire and Harpers Bazaar. In 1963 she was awarded a Guggenheim fellowship for a project that focused on American customs. The Guggenheim was among the most prestigious of fellowships available to artists, including photographers, making it an important source of financial and artistic support for those like Arbus who sought to break free from the strictures of magazine photography. Her later work was emotionally complex and explored subject matter outside of the mainstream, such as portraits of individuals whose professional, personal or physical attributes deviated from what was considered normal or acceptable in Arbus’ time, and photographs that frankly captured sexuality or revealed underlying currents of domestic tension and dysfunction.

At the time of her death, Arbus was already a growing influence on the field of photography but not widely known to the larger public. It was her portfolio, A box of ten photographs, that initiated the transition, connecting her past as a magazine photographer with her emergence as a serious artist. The publication of six photographs from the portfolio in Artforum and the presentation of the complete portfolio at the Venice Biennale were the first steps toward the almost mythical status of Arbus today.

Stephen Frank, Diane Arbus with her photograph Identical twins, Roselle, N.J. 1966, during a lecture at the Rhode Island School of Design in 1970. © Stephen A. Frank

Stephen Frank, Diane Arbus with her photograph Identical twins, Roselle, N.J. 1966, during a lecture at the Rhode Island School of Design in 1970. © Stephen A. Frank

This exhibition sheds new light on a crucial and often overlooked stage in Arbus’ career, as well as on a transformational moment in the history of contemporary photography,” said Stephanie Stebich, The Margaret and Terry Stent Director at the Smithsonian American Art. “The museum was an early champion of photography as an important art form reflecting the American experience. We’re proud of the role that SAAM played in bringing the work of Diane Arbus to wider recognition in the 1970s and are pleased to present A box of ten photographs in its entirety to a new generation.

In late 1969, Arbus began to work on a portfolio. At the time of her death in 1971, she had completed the printing for eight known sets of a planned edition of 50 of A box of ten photographs, as she titled it, only four of which she sold during her lifetime. Two were purchased by photographer Richard Avedon; another by artist Jasper Johns. A fourth was purchased by Bea Feitler, art director at Harper’s Bazaar. For Feitler, Arbus added an 11th photograph, “A woman with her baby monkey N.J. 1971.” This is the first exhibition to focus exclusively on A box of ten photographs, using the set that Arbus assembled especially for Feitler. It was acquired by the Smithsonian American Art Museum in 1986, and it is the only one of the portfolios completed and sold by Arbus that is publicly held. Continue reading