We snap a selfie with the tap of a finger. We're used to preserving smiling moments.
At the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, there's an exhibit right now which goes to darker places with a camera. The images in "Real Worlds" are from three major photographers, taken over half a century.
The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA), presents Real Worlds: Brassaï, Arbus, Goldin, an exhibition that brings together the works of three of the most influential photographers of modern life. Drawn largely from MOCA’s extraordinary collection of photography, the exhibition provides a remarkable opportunity to explore the ways in which Brassaï (Gyula Halász) (b. 1899, Brassó, Hungary (now Romania); d. 1984, Èze, France), Diane Arbus (b.1923, New York; d. 1971, New York) and Nan Goldin (b. 1953, Washington, D.C.) use the camera to reflect and transform the world around them. Real Worlds features an exceptional trove of approximately one hundred works by the three artists, including Brassaï’s unforgettable images of the nocturnal denizens of Paris, Arbus’s most memorable and unsettling portraits, and Goldin’s searingly poignant documentation of herself and her community. The exhibition is structured around MOCA’s nearly comprehensive collection of photographs that appear in three legendary photobooks: Brassaï’s The Secret Paris of the 30’s (1976), the posthumous Diane Arbus: An Aperture Monograph (1972), and Goldin’s The Ballad of Sexual Dependency (1986).
Bringing together more than 80 pictures taken by photographers from the 19th century to today, (un)expected families at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), explores the definition of the American family—from the families we’re born into to the ones we’ve chosen. The photographs in the exhibition, on view from December 9, 2017 through June 17, 2018, depict a wide range of relationships—multiple generations, romantic unions and alternative family structures—whether connected by DNA, shared life experiences, common interests or even a social media network. Drawn primarily from the MFA’s holdings, the exhibition includes photographs by celebrated artists such as Nan Goldin, Gordon Parks, Nicholas Nixon, Sally Mann, Diane Arbus, Tina Barney, Emmet Gowin and Bruce Davidson. Photograph: Andrea Shea/WBUR.
"... this well edited, cogent exhibition pairing the two artists at Galerie Edwynn Houk, the new Zurich branch of the estimable photography gallery in New York, shouldn’t have been surprising. Yet it was: the lasting power and startling frankness of Sander’s and Arbus’s oeuvres, dissecting and delineating twentieth-century social mores and postures, left me more than a little moved." (Quinn Latimer, 12/12/11)
There has not been a Diane Arbus biography in nearly three decades — which is a startling fact. Like Orson Welles, Alfred Hitchcock or Tennessee Williams, Arbus is the kind of complex, ambitious, taboo-smashing artist whose life and work — and the connection between the two — are endlessly fascinating. Her photographs — particularly those of whom she termed "freaks" — set off a shockwave in the '60s. And they still have the power to cause car-wreck-like disturbances in a viewer's psyche. Her relationship to her subjects remains compelling and hard to resolve. Are her photographs examples of exploitation? Empathy? Self-portraiture? (Tantalizingly, Arbus called photography "a secret about a secret.")