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 Diane Arbus was a seminal figure in 20th century photography. Her subjects were often members of society's fringe - an odd, discomforting and new topic for most viewers in the 1950s and 60s. She violated all previously implied "polite distance" rules between herself and those she shot, getting as close as she felt was warranted. She also had an unsurpassed ability to inject a certain amount of psychology into any given picture, as if compelling the viewer to look long and deeply.

 

Arbus was the first photographer to exhibit at the Venice Biennale in 1972. Her work, which embraces vulnerability, grit, and nonconformity, constitutes a raw and unflinching celebration of difference. Arbus’s work effectively helped liberate street photography from its documentary associations to solidify its importance in the trajectory of art history. Held in 1972, the Diane Arbus retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York still holds the highest attendance record to date at the museum. Her art inaugurated new aesthetic standards for photography and continues to influence contemporary artists working across diverse media.

 

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