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Still powerful?

Diane Arbus took photographs in nudist colonies and mental hospitals. But now that being a “freak” has acquired a mainstream gloss, has her work lost its edge?

By Louis Wise   November 2011
[meteor_slideshow slideshow=”diane-arbus”]

Above: some of the photographs that will be included in a forthcoming exhibition of Arbus’s work

Forty years since her death, Diane Arbus’s fame as a photographer is greater than ever; a popular new exhibition in Paris, at the Jeu de Paume, confirms it. Her reputation is a stickier thing. More so than many of her peers, Arbus remains deeply enmeshed with her usual choice of subject; those so-called “freaks” of society, incongruous because of their looks or behaviour or conditions. Transvestites, hairy women, people with Down’s; nudists, beauty queens, children in black-face; dwarfs, clinical giants and Norman…

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