Diane Arbus Revelations at the Victoria & Albert Museum

Martin Barnes, one of the V&A’s photography curators, suggests that: ‘by the end of the 1960s “freaky” could be used as a term of excitement and interest to describe something or someone’.

So Diane Arbus, who had a relatively privileged background, may not have been looking down on her subjects when she called some of them freaks. Not that that really matters, because the real point seems to be that everyone is a freak is some way or other and so none of us are. We came to this fresh from Degas, Sickert & Toulouse-Lautrec at Tate Britain, where Degas courted controversy by making art that refused to present a prettified vision of the world. Diane Arbus Revelations challenges in much the same way. But these don’t feel like contemporary revelations. These black and whites help turn the 1960s into a foreign land populated by strange people… ‘freaky’ indeed.

Leave a Reply