“In late 1969, Diane Arbus began to work on a portfolio. At the time of her death in 1971, she had completed the printing for eight known sets of A box of ten photographs, of a planned edition of fifty, only four of which she sold during her lifetime. Two were purchased by photographer Richard Avedon; another by artist Jasper Johns. A fourth was purchased by Bea Feitler, art director at Harper’s Bazaar, for whom Arbus added an eleventh photograph.
This exhibition traces the history of A box of ten photographs between 1969 and 1973, using the set that Arbus assembled for Feitler, which was acquired by SAAM in 1986. The story is a crucial one because it was the portfolio that established the foundation for Arbus’s posthumous career, ushering in photography’s acceptance to the realm of “serious” art.”
This is an exhibit you don’t want to miss. Diane Arbus captured American life in all its strange and eccentric glory from a perspective uniquely her own. Her work is fascinating and beautifully composed and undoubtedly plays an important role in the development of street photography as a very real and important genre of art. Her images will hold you captive and inspire you to explore your own vision and capture the life around you as you see it, or as you choose to capture it.
See the exhibit “A Box of Ten Photographs” at the Smithsonian American Art Museum at 8th and F Streets, NW in Washington, DC now through January 21, 2019.