New York

Diane Arbus

Robert Miller Gallery

These 28 photographs taken by Diane Arbus shortly before her suicide in 1971 many of them unpublished and rarely seen together—reveal the strength and unity of her late work. They are photographs of the retarded; most of the subjects are women, some are dressed in Halloween costumes. If these images weren’t so ironically beautiful, they’d probably break your heart. Instead, you stand transfixed, wondering how the artist could bear to do the things she did—and do them so well.

The venues here seem to vary, as does the quality of light and image: the pictures look to have been taken at three different homes and at three different times of the year. Not all of the subjects are in costume; but all of the images confront madness and death in the form of the (costumed) other, and all are elegantly preserved as gelatin silver prints, in Arbus’ signature raw-bordered 2-1/4-inch format. These

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