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DIANE ARBUS (1923–1971)
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DIANE ARBUS (1923–1971)

Teenage couple on Hudson Street N.Y.C, 1963

Details
DIANE ARBUS (1923–1971)
Teenage couple on Hudson Street N.Y.C, 1963
gelatin silver print
signed, titled and dated ‘Young Couple 10th St N.Y.C. 1962 DIANE ARBUS’ by the artist in ink, stamped ‘a diane arbus print’ with signature and number ‘1644-8-0S-1620’ by Doon Arbus, Administrator, in ink and stamped Estate copyright credit (verso); credited, titled and dated on affixed gallery label (frame backing board)
image: 13 x 12 ½in. (33 x 31.7cm.)
sheet: 20 x 16in. (50.8 x 40.7cm.)
Photographed in 1963 and printed by Diane Arbus between 1967 and 1970, this work is accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity from the Estate of Diane Arbus, signed by Doon Arbus

Other prints of this image are in the collections of:
Centre Pompidou, Paris;
Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris;
The Metropolitan Museum, New York;
Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles;
The Museum of Modern Art, New York;
Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of American History, Behring Center, Washington D.C.;
Tate/ National Galleries of Scotland, London and Edinburgh.
Provenance
Gagosian Gallery, New York.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1984.
Literature
D. Arbus (ed.), diane arbus, New York 1972 (illustrated, p. 101).
S. Phillips et al. (eds.) Diane Arbus Revelations, New York 2003, p. 323 (illustrated, p. 102).
Exhibited
New York, The Museum of Modern Art, New Documents, 1967, no. 20 (another print exhibited).
New York, The Museum of Modern Art, Diane Arbus, 1972 – 1974, no. 24 (another print exhibited). This exhibition later travelled to Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art; Baltimore, Baltimore Museum of Art; Minneapolis, Walker Art Center and Ottawa, National Gallery of Canada.
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Diane Arbus Revelations, 2003 – 2004 (another print exhibited; illustrated, p. 102). This exhibition later travelled to New York, The Metropolitan Museum.
Paris, Jeu de Paume, Diane Arbus, 2011 – 2012.
Special notice

These lots have been imported from outside the EU for sale using a Temporary Import regime. Import VAT is payable (at 5%) on the Hammer price. VAT is also payable (at 20%) on the buyer’s Premium on a VAT inclusive basis. When a buyer of such a lot has registered an EU address but wishes to export the lot or complete the import into another EU country, he must advise Christie's immediately after the auction.

Brought to you by

Jeremy Morrison
Jeremy Morrison

Lot Essay

Diane Arbus was born Diane Nemerov in New York City on March 14, 1923. She attended the Ethical and Fieldston schools, and at the age of 18 she was married to Allan Arbus. With no lengthy formal training but a voracious intellectual and artistic appetite, early on Arbus found her way into classes with two photographers, Berenice Abbott and, most importantly, Lisette Model, as well as art director Alexey Brodovitch.

In 1956, the commercial photographic partnership that she and husband Allan Arbus had maintained for roughly ten years was ended. She was 33 years old. At this moment, “and apparently for the first time, [Arbus] starts numbering her negatives and corresponding contact sheets beginning with #1. She will maintain this system for the rest of her career.” (Diane Arbus, Revelations, Random House, New York, 2003, p. 139).

In the Fall of 1962, Diane Arbus submitted a portfolio of photographs as part of an application for a Guggenheim Fellowship for Photography. Various friends and photographers—Walker Evans, Robert Frank and Lee Friedlander among them—offered to write letters of recommendation, including her teacher, the photographer Lisette Model. Model’s letter of recommendation, dated January 4, 1963, begins as follows:

Photographers can be good, bad, excellent, first rate, or tops, but there are hardly any artists among them. Here is an exception.

By the year of her death in 1971, Arbus had deeply impacted the New York art and photography world. The Department of Photography at The Museum of Modern Art, headed by esteemed photography curator John Szarkowski, mounted a full scale retrospective in 1972, helping to cement her place in a quickly evolving canon of great 20th century artists. Time has revealed her lasting influence, with major retrospectives hosted by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Jeu de Paume, Paris, in recent years.

Her interest in 'couples' was a consistent theme throughout her career. Large format, signed and titled lifetime prints of Teenage couple on Hudson Street, N.Y.C. 1963, such as the present lot, are scarce and rare to the market. This is only the second such print to appear at auction in the past 20 years. Examples can be found in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art, New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and the Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris.

Importantly, the border treatment of the present lot contains clues as to when Arbus made this print. As described by printer Neil Selkirk in the essay “In the Darkroom”, published in Diane Arbus Revelations (2005), “around 1965, [Arbus] had begun to surround her square images with broad, irregular black borders.”

Up until that point, ever since 1956 when she began printing her own work, she had employed hard, clean edges to her images with ample white borders. A filed-out negative carrier provided this shift to black borders. Those irregular, black borders eventually gave way to a much-softened, still irregular treatment. “She reduced the black borders to a vestigial condition,” Selkirk writes. “The new borders were scarcely there.”

As confirmed by the estate, the present lot was printed by Arbus between 1967 and 1970. It is a stunning example of an artist at work.

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