Diane Arbus: Family Albums

Nationally acclaimed exhibition re-examines photographer's unfinished project, offers glimpse of what might have been


  • Ongoing: until Sunday, January 16, 2005
  • Sunday: 12:00pm
  • Tuesday: 10:00am
  • Wednesday: 10:00am
  • Thursday: 10:00am
  • Friday: 10:00am
  • Saturday: 10:00am
  • Where: Spencer Museum of Art, Lawrence
  • Cost: Free
  • Age limit: All ages

In 1968, three years before her suicide, Diane Arbus wrote that she was compiling her photographs into a "family album," likening it to a "Noah's ark" and perhaps imagining in it the people who might be remembered and saved in the aftermath of the tumultuous 1960s. "Family," in Arbus' sense, consisted of people held together by all sorts of bonds, some traditional and others alternative, and deserving of special attention. Diane Arbus: Family Albums, organized by the Spencer Museum of Art and the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, South Hadley, Mass., re-examines Arbus' never-completed project and offers a glimpse into what such an album might have looked like. The exhibition will be on view in the Spencer's Kress Gallery from Oct. 16 through Jan. 16, before continuing on to several other venues in its national tour. Diane Arbus: Family Albums includes a large body of work never seen before publicly and promises to change the received view of the remarkable photographer. Arbus was interested in compiling expansive and metaphorical images of the 1960s family. The exhibition, then, culls from Arbus' work, as she never had the chance to do, a collective image of the family in a turbulent decade of American history. It presents traditional family groupings as well as alternative families/communities and "implied" families. The exhibition is augmented with printed materials from the 1960s and a major companion book published by Yale University Press, co-authored by the exhibition's organizers, John Pultz, Spencer curator of photography and associate professor of art history, and Anthony Lee, Mount Holyoke associate professor of art history. Their book has met with widespread critical acclaim-in December 2003 both Art and Auction and The New York Times Book Review included it on lists of the best photography books of the year. The Spencer holdings of Arbus' work consist primarily of photographs she took for Esquire magazine. These prints, many of which are accompanied by related proof sheets, show the photographer's broad range-and especially her interest in the family. Depicting children, couples, mothers, and fathers, they include public figures with their children (such as television's Ozzie and Harriet Nelson), and they also picture various people that Arbus fashioned as surrogate families. RELATED EVENTS:Lecture: Photographer Tina Barney on her work, October 21, 7 p.m. SMA Auditorium. Murphy Lecture Fund. Barney will speak on her photography of families and its inheritance from Diane Arbus. Film: "The Royal Tenenbaums" October 28, 7 p.m. SMA Auditorium. (2001, director Wes Anderson, 109 minutes) Rated R. Lecture. Curator John Pultz on "Diane Arbus: Family Albums." October 29, 7 p.m., KU Edwards Campus, Overland Park. Pultz is co-organizer of the exhibition, a KU associate professor of art history and SMA curator of photography. Tour du Jour: Curator John Pultz, November 4, 12:15 p.m., SMA Kress Gallery. Film: "The Ice Storm," November 4, 7 p.m. SMA Auditorium. (1997,director Ang Lee, 112 minutes.) Rated R. Lecture. Trudy Wilner Stack on "Fear and Loving: Arbus and Winogrand's New America." November 11, 5:30 p.m., SMA Auditorium. Murphy Lecture Fund. Wilner Stack is an independent scholar and curator. Lecture and gallery talk. Professor Anthony Lee on "Arbus, Fashion, and the Grotesque," November 18, 7 p.m., SMA Auditorium. A walk through the exhibition with curator John Pultz will follow the lecture. Lee is co-organizer of the exhibition, and associate professor, art history and American studies, Mount Holyoke College. Children's Art Appreciation Class: "Family Photo Albums," December 4, 10-30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. $. Pre-registration required. Contact Karen Gerety at 864-0137 or kcgerety@ku.eduFilm: "Ordinary People." December 9, 7 p.m. SMA Auditorium. (1980, director Robert Redford, 124 min.) Video: "Going Where I've Never Been: Photography of Diane Arbus." Shown continuously in the SMA Kress Gallery.

This event was posted Sept. 30, 2004 and last updated Sept. 16, 2014


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