An immediate reaction ranges from awe to fascination and, ultimately, discomfort before the unlikely and the bizarre. Through Diane Arbus' lenses, the meeting with the other person becomes disturbing; a New Yorker, born on March, 1923, Diane's first contacts with photography were through her husband Allan that shared with her the photography lessons he had had during his assignments in the US army. They worked together for many years in advertising: Allan Arbus as the photographer and Diane as his assistant. However, in an inevitable expansion that no longer allowed her to remain as a mere helping hand, Arbus decided to take up formal lessons at the New School in New York, in 1959. She was already separated from Allan at the time. She studied photography under the orientation of Alexey Brodovitch, art director for Harper's Bazar, and his pupil Richard Avedon. But the fashion universe was not her prerogative; Arbus was particularly interested in anonymous intimacies.
Freud said that everything that seems weird to us is, at the same time, familiar. Diane Arbus, from the early 60s on, armed with her Rolleiflex, started on a journey in search of those odd familiarities among ordinary people, living their ordinary daily lives, even if they were considered "freeks"; the main display, the one that is really going to bother the viewer is the cruelty of the most secret details of the portraied. What's bizarre is the secret's revelation, that assumes unnerving outlines in the gruesome black and white; they trigger a dialogue between ourselves and (un?)known secrets, of the photographer or of the person being photographed.
They are always still, posing, looking into the camera; there is an exploration of the disguised, of the absurdand and ordinary actions, of the small objects... It's theatrical, feasible, random, voyeuristic and exhibitionist, all at the same time in outside portraits that gravitate towards a questioning about the consistency of individual and group identities. She was also interested in the bizarre, mutilated, prostitutes, siamese twins, dwarves and transvestites... She said they fascinated her and embarrased her at the same time, that she recognized in them a unique dignity: Most people spend their whole lives fearing a traumatic experience. "Freaks" are born covered by trauma. Because of that they pass on the test of life. They're aristocrats.
On July of 1971, only seven years after her first exhibit at the Modern Art Museum, the artist commited suicide by ingesting a large quantity of barbiturates and then slashing her wrists. In 1972 her work was represented at the Venice Biennale and her legacy revolutionized modern photography with her quest to find herself in others.