One of the leading photographers of the 20th century, Diane Arbus was as controversial as she was unknown. Transfixed by the others of the world—the freaks, the fringe, and the forgotten that society refused to see—her arresting portraiture challenged the psychology of photography and the practice itself, often crossing boundaries of literal and metaphorical importance.
Over half a century after her passing, the David Zwirner and Fraenkel Gallery are presenting "Cataclysm: The 1972 Diane Arbus Retrospective Revisited," which opens on September 14. The exhibition commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Museum of Modern Art’s 1972 retrospective, which exposed Arbus’s portfolio to the greater public, and changed the dialogue of the art form forever and the photographer’s legacy in it. “There were lines down the block and around the corner. Debates ensued, sometimes raged,” remembers David Leiber, a partner of David Zwirner. "Cataclysm: The 1972 Diane Arbus Retrospective Revisited" recontextualizes Arbus’s original 113 photographs for a generation no longer jarred by seeing the unseen.
In conjunction with the show’s opening, the gallery’s book publisher is also releasing Diane Arbus Documents, which features articles, criticism, and essays from 1967 to the present. “A vast, absorbing bibliography of the critical writings published over the last five decades, Documents is testament to Arbus’s enduring legacy, an artist who has continuously been a part of the conversation about looking and feeling," says Leiber.
"Cataclysm: The 1972 Diane Arbus Retrospective Revisited" is on view at David Zwirner from September 14 through October 22, 2022, at 537 W 20th St, New York, NY 10011.