The same year that Edward S. Curtis’ North American Indians appeared also saw the release of the first Diane Arbus monograph, one year after her suicide. They are two separate lessons in portraiture, two visions of a changing America. In the case of Arbus, it’s a bold approach to photographing New York streets, like a casting director for a horror film. Her distorted close-ups accentuate the oddness of the faces she captures without flattery, reflecting the aesthetic reality of an era when fashion began to iron out the criteria of beauty.
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