Met Breuer, New York
A boldly arranged new show of the photographer’s early work invites viewers to navigate her most prolific period – before her vision turned to surrealism
There’s nothing to be done about the legend of Diane Arbus: as with van Gogh and Pollock, Heath Ledger and Amy Winehouse, her fast success and early death have a way of occluding her art. Best, then, to give her art an origin myth. Diane Arbus: In the Beginning, which opens this week at the Met Breuer in New York, looks past her most famous images – the young man with curlers in his hair, or the gawky identical twins – to reveal the first, halting images of a photographer who was never aloof. They date from 1956, when she shot her first images on the street with a 35mm camera, to 1962, when she adopted the twin-lens square format Rolliflex that would be her signature.