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Thread: Diane Arbus at LACMA..slightly disappointing

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Oct 2003
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    Diane Arbus at LACMA..slightly disappointing

    Perfect day to go to a museum in Los Angeles yesterday: beautiful sunny day with that spring temperature that you wish lasts forever, not too hot not too cold.... The first surprise waits for me at the ticket office , where they tell me that to view the Arbus work i have to pay $ 12 which is the double of all the other shows at the LACMA presently . Oh well, i think , it's fine , for Arbus i will do this. As soon as i get inside the building i start seeing in the distance all the pieces that i have come to know and love so much ( yes , i think you can really love a print ) . My heart fills with anticipacion . The room is filled but not crowded with people , and i hear lot's of people giggling at some of Arbus work ; some say -<oh , that's creepy !-> , some -<oh, my, my !>-etc.etc. The rooms are hardly quiet for a good "listening " of the prints , but that is also something i can cope with . Than i start noticing something that i never noticed in Arbus work . The images lacked power. The choices of images was excellent : all the famous Arbus images we have come to know , plus many potentially beautiful photographs of unpublished work . A big percentage of images displayed i had noticed had been printed not by Arbus , but by Neil Selkirk . Now , i don't know if you agree with me , i have always considered the carachteristic murkiness of Arbus prints of vital importance to stimulate deep emotions in the viewer : the way she printed the images was the final and complementing stage to the effectivness of the image itself . Here i was looking at LACMA yesterday , the ingenious work of Arbus printed by someone who had put some of his style . Do not misunderstand me , the images where printed technically very well, they actually showed a mastery of B/W superior , i am sure, to Diane Arbus skills in the darkroom , but they had lost their magic. Some of the images where outstanding ( i remember a jewel-like small print of a boy in a windy field ) , but almost all of them had more tonal separation , more contrast , and had lost that warm tone characteristic of Arbus work ( O.K., now i am repeating myself ). To add that in this exhibit they have really tried to elevate D.A. to a cult . In a Room there was her enlarger , with many reject prints pinned to two walls yellowed by fixer, pictures of her ..... She was a Star , ( i don't think she would have agreed to all this ). I heard the Arbus family has been hardly criticized for their greed , but i won't get into that ... Forgive my ranting , but for me it is hard to imagine Diane Arbus work if not printed by the artist , i think that with this show they have deserved one applause and one critique . The applause is for showing work that has never been shown before , and the critique....well, you already know what, in my modest opinion.....

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Jan 2004
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    Halifax, Nova Scotia
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    Diane Arbus at LACMA..slightly disappointing

    That is similar to the Adams at 100 exhibit/book. All of the prints were made by Adams but they evolved over time and the final prints that Adams prefered and we are familiar with were absent. The prints that were chosen were lighter and less dramatic and a real letdown. I understand and sympathize with you.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Marin County, California
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    47

    Diane Arbus at LACMA..slightly disappointing

    I saw this same exhibit in San Francisco a few months back. My reactions were much like Domenico's. At what point are museum exhibitors going too far in presenting a person's work when the artist herself did NOT pick images for presentation? A good friend who knew Arbus believes she would not have approved showing many of the images in this show.

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