Diane Arbus: Family Albums

Anthony W. Lee and John Pultz

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Out of Print

A compelling new interpretation of the work of an influential and controversial photographer, featuring some previously unpublished images

Diane Arbus (1923–1971) is renowned for her provocative and unsettling portraits of modern Americans. This book presents a significant body of previously unpublished pictures by Arbus and proposes a radically new way to understand her goals, strategies, and overall work.

Diane Arbus: Family Albums examinesunknown contact sheets from several of Arbus’s portrait sessions, including more than three hundred photographs she took of a New York family one weekend in 1969. Anthony W. Lee and John Pultz put to the test Arbus’s claim that she was developing a “family album.” They present other images Arbus shot for Esquire magazine(including pictures of the families of Ricky Nelson, Jayne Mansfield, and Ogden Reid) and discuss her interest in photographic groupings of both traditional and alternative families. Challenging common interpretations of Arbus, the authors reveal a photographer far more savvy with the camera, more aware of photography as an artistic and commercial practice, and more sensitive to the social and cultural tensions of the 1960s than has been acknowledged before.

Anthony W. Lee is associate professor of art history and chair of American studies at Mount Holyoke College. John Pultz is associate professor in the Kress Foundation Department of Art History and curator of photography at the Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas.


Reynolda House, Museum of American Art, Winston-Salem, NC (September 25- December 4, 2005)

"Powerful. . . . This album is pure, extracurricular fun. . . . An object of desire."—Peter Plagens, Art + Auction

“This catalog and its included essays exhaustively attempt to contextualize Diane Arbus’s photography in the evolution of the medium during the fractured times after World War II.”—Aimee LeDuc, Camerawork

“I recommend the catalog essays by Mr. Pultz and Mr. Lee, who range intelligently across familiar topics like the rise of art photography, the postwar American Jewish family and social upheaval during the 1960s, and who recount the influences of Walker Evans, Weegee and August Sander on Arbus.”—Michael Kimmelman, New York Times

“For critical interpretation worthy of such a great and controversial talent, one can turn to Family Albums.”—Andy Grundberg, New York Times Book Review (Holiday Books)

ISBN: 9780300101461
Publication Date: September 10, 2003
Publishing Partner: Published in association with the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum and the Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas
168 pages, 9 x 10
65 duotones