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Diane Arbus, Female impersonator holding long gloves, Hempstead, L.I. 1959, gelatin silver print, 9 3/4 × 5 7/8". © The Estate of Diane Arbus, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Diane Arbus

The Met Breuer

Diane Arbus, Female impersonator holding long gloves, Hempstead, L.I. 1959, gelatin silver print, 9 3/4 × 5 7/8". © The Estate of Diane Arbus, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

In one of those hard-to-believe-now anecdotes, Diane Arbus had trouble selling an editioned portfolio of her photographs in 1971; Richard Avedon bought two of the four she managed to sell for $1,000 each. The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s elegant exhibition of Arbus’s early, mostly unseen work, “In the Beginning,” curated by Jeff L. Rosenheim at the Met Breuer, includes the contents of one of Avedon’s boxes in a side room: a well-trafficked coda to the show’s new discoveries. This is Arbus at the (all-too-soon) end (she would die just a few months later at forty-eight), and demonstrates the arresting intensity of her iconic work: crisp images shot with a medium-format camera of a boy at a pro-war parade wearing a BOMB HANOI pin; a giant towering over his parents in their house; an unpopulated suburban living room with a Christmas tree squished in its corner, dripping tinsel.

Far

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