• Sale 1777

    The Refco Collection of Contemporary Photographs

    5 May 2006, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 11

    Diane Arbus (1923-1971)

    Tattooed man at a carnival, Md., 1970

    Price Realised  

    Diane Arbus (1923-1971)
    Tattooed man at a carnival, Md., 1970
    gelatin silver print, printed later by Neil Selkirk
    stamped 'A Diane Arbus photograph', signed, titled, dated, numbered '57/75' by Doon Arbus, Executor, in ink and Estate copyright credit reproduction limitation stamps (on the verso)
    14 5/8 x 14 5/8in. (37 x 37cm.)
    Executed in 1970. This work is number fifty-seven from an edition of seventy-five.


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    In July 1970 Diane Arbus was sent on assignment by Esquire to photograph girl shows at a carnival in Hagerstown, Maryland. Not finding the subject matter the magazine was hoping for, Arbus made the trip productive for herself, photographing a number of carnival people, namely the Albino sword swallower and the present lot, the Tattooed Man.

    Roaming the carnival grounds, Arbus undoubtedly found many of the carnival people endlessly fascinating. She had an attraction to people and subjects who lived in worlds vastly different from her own and obsessively captured them on film. In the case of the Tattooed Man, she has created an archetypal figure. This man seems to be at the same time a fierce warrior, as evinced by his full body tattoos and hands on hips, and a soulful being as revealed by his piercing eyes. The effect is intensified by Arbus' use of powerful flash. She has said of her photographs that "the more specific [they] are, the more general it'll be. You really have to face the thing. And there are certain evasions, certain nicenesses that I think you have to get out of" (Diane Arbus, Aperture, 1972, pg. 2).

    Provenance

    With Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco


    Literature

    Diane Arbus, Aperture, 1972, n.p.; Diane Arbus Revelations, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Random House, 2003, p. 231