Diane Arbus Retrospective – First Visit

It was the best photography show I’ve ever seen. The content was rich and complex, the format was comprehensive and original, the exhibit was beautifully laid out and well executed. The power of each photograph was gripping and intense, and the sheer volume of these photos overwhelmed me. Not sure whether the exceptionally hot sun outside the window added to the pressure, but I did need to take a break in the middle closed my eyes and rest before I was physically capable of viewing the rest of the exhibit. When we walked out the exhibit hall, Gui said, ¡°No wonder she killed herself.¡± I nodded. Each face captured by Arbus was showing a world of thoughts and intricate relationships heavily packed within. If each of us was required to take care of one complex world, then Arbus saw them all, and they had to weight down on her. Who could have taken all that weight? Speaking of ¡°Altas Shrugged¡±.

Standing on the sidewalk outside MOMA, blinking in the bright and burning sunlight, I was suddenly seeing, as if for the first time, the world that I¡¯ve been living in. Every face came at me, passed me, surrounded me became new and interesting. I suddenly was eager to stare into each and every pair of eyes that were gliding through my world in such a random fashion, knowing suddenly they are each unique and complicated. Each face has a story, a soul, a world of emotions¡­

Being a person that was attracted to words, I found Arbus¡¯ writing particularly interesting. From those sentences, one could easily sense the sheer volume of ideas and thoughts tangled in her mind at each given moment, and the strength she exerted trying to untangle them to make others see as she did, to capture them before they rushed past her; yet, they kept on rushing past her¡­

The Full Circle
These are singular people who appear like metaphors somewhere further out than we do, beckoned, not driven, invented by belief, author and hero of a real dream by whichever own courage and cunning are tested and tried so that we may wonder all over again what is veritable and inevitable and possible and what it is to become whoever we may be.
–Diane Arbus, Harper¡¯s Bazaar, November 1961

If the fall of man consists in the separation of god and the devil the serpent must have appeared out of the middle of the apple when eve bit like the original worm in it, splitting it in half and sundering everything which was once one into a pair of opposites, so the world is a Noah¡¯s ark on the sea of eternity containing all the endless pairs of things, irreconcilable and inseparable, and heat will always long for cold and the back for the front and smiles for tears and mutt for jeff and no for yes with the most unutterable nostalgia there is.
–Diane Arbus letter to Marvin Israel, Circa 1960

2 thoughts on “Diane Arbus Retrospective – First Visit

  1. Hi Katie,
    You could find the full schedule from SFMOMA Press Room.

    Here is an excerpt:
    After opening at SFMOMA the exhibition will travel nationally and internationally to
    the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (February 29¨CMay 30, 2004);
    the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (June 27¨CAugust 29, 2004);
    the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (February¨CMay 2005);
    Museum Folkwang, Essen, Germany (June¨CSeptember 2005);
    the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (October 2005¨CJanuary 2006);
    and the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (July 9¨COctober 8, 2006).

    Don’t miss it! 🙂 Hope you enjoy it as much as i did…

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