About this artwork
Just two years before she received her first camera, Diane Arbus wrote: “There are and have been and will be an infinite number of things on Earth. Individuals all different, all wanting different things, all knowing different things, all loving different things, all looking different. . . . That is what I love: the differentness.” Arbus’s appreciation for the unusual, eccentric, and extraordinary led her to photograph a range of subjects over the thirty years of her career—transvestites, giants, art philanthropists, nudists, and, as here, similarly dressed and made-up women. These ladies, with their cigarettes poised in one hand and lighters clutched in the other, occupy a booth in a New York City automat. (Now nearly obsolete and a nostalgic choice even in the 1960s, automats offered simple fare, sold from coin-operated vending machines, that was eaten at surrounding booths and counters.) Like many of Arbus’s subjects, these women were photographed in a straightforward manner. The eerily matched ladies face the camera head-on, posed in front of an unadorned marble wall and staring directly at the viewer. The candor with which Arbus presented these women is typical of the pioneering, powerful first-person directness that exists throughout her photography.
Currently Off View
- Diane Arbus
- Two Ladies at the Automat (New York City)
- United States
- Gelatin silver print
- Unmarked recto; stamped verso, upper left, in black ink: "Not to be reproduced in any way without written permission from Doon Arbus"; stamped, inscribed and signed verso, upper right, in black ink: "A Diane Arbus photograph / title [stamped] THE LADIES AT THE AUTOMAT, / N. Y. C. 1966 [inscribed] / print by [stamped] NEIL SELKIRK JAN 1977 [inscribed] / Doon Arbus [signed]"; inscribed verso, lower left, in graphite: "#3651"
- 37.5 × 37.5 cm (image); 50.5 × 40.5 cm (paper)
- Gift of Theodore Collyer