Untitled is the third volume of Diane Arbus’s work and the only one devoted exclusively to a single project. The photographs were taken at residences for the mentally retarded between 1969 and 1971, in the last years of Arbus’s life. Although she considered doing a book on the subject, the vast majority of these pictures remained unpublished prior to this volume.
These photographs achieve a lyricism, an emotional purity that sets them apart from all her other accomplishments. “Finally what I’ve been searching for,” she wrote at the time. The product of her consistently unflinching regard for reality as she found it, the images in this book have less in common with the documentary than with the mythic.
Untitled may well be Arbus’s most transcendent, most romantic vision. It is a celebration of the singularity and connectedness of each and every one of us. For Diane Arbus, this is what making pictures was all about.
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Diane Arbus (1923–1971) revolutionized the terms of the art she practiced. Five volumes of her work have been published posthumously and have remained continuously in print: Diane Arbus: An Aperture Monograph (1972), Diane Arbus: Magazine Work (1984), Untitled: Diane Arbus (1995), Diane Arbus: A Chronology (2011), and Diane Arbus Revelations (Random House, 2003).From Library Journal:
"The photographs were taken at residences for the mentally retarded between 1966 and 1971, places she kept going back to every few months or so, to picnics, dances, on Halloween," writes Arbus's daughter in the short afterword here. "This is simply information. What is in the pictures lies closer to home." In fact, what is revealed on page after page hits almost too close to home. Best known for her documentary yet wholly empathetic photographs of the human oddities from which polite society averts its gaze, Arbus reached the limits of the medium's possibilities for both truth-telling and identification in this series made in the years and months before her suicide. In those times, anyone choosing the severely handicapped as subject matter would risk accusations of exploitation, but this collection is immune: not simply because the subjects are clearly willing participants, giddily posing for the rare opportunity, but also because the product utterly lacks a voyeuristic dimension. There is no visible attempt to compose an art or to layer the images with the artist's interpretation. These are simply some of the most disturbingly honest photographs ever taken. Essential for all photography collections.?Eric Bryant, "Library Journal"
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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