Diane Arbus Documents

Texts by 55 authors, including Hilton Als, A. D. Coleman, Holland Cotter, Jacob Deschin, Germaine Greer, Hilton Kramer, Arthur Lubow, Janet Malcolm, Francine Prose, Sukhdev Sandhu, Peter Schjeldahl, Adrian Searle, Susan Sontag, Lynne Tillman, and Colm Tóibín

Edited by Max Rosenberg. Foreword by Jeffrey Fraenkel and Lucas Zwirner 


Through an assemblage of articles, criticism, and essays from 1967 to the present, this groundbreaking publication charts the reception of the photographer’s work and offers comprehensive insight into the critical conversations, as well as misconceptions, around this highly influential artist. 

Best known for her penetrating images exploring what it means to be human, Diane Arbus is a pivotal and singular figure in American postwar photography. Arbus’s black-and-white photographs demolish aesthetic conventions and upend all certainties. Both lauded and criticized for her photographs of people deemed “outsiders,” Arbus continues to be a lightning rod for a wide range of opinions surrounding her subject matter and approach. Critics and writers have described her work as “sinister” and “appalling” as well as “revelatory,” “sincere,” and “compassionate.” Through an assemblage of articles, criticism, and essays from 1967 to the present, Diane Arbus Documents charts the reception of the revolutionary photographer's work.

Illuminating fifty years of evolution in the field of art criticism, Documents provides a new template for understanding the work of any formidable artist. Organized in eleven sections that focus on major exhibitions and significant events emerging from Arbus’s work, as well as on her methods and intentions, the sixty-nine facsimiles of previously published articles and essays––an archive by all accounts––trace the discourse on Arbus, contextualizing her inimitable oeuvre. Supplemented by an annotated bibliography of more than six hundred entries and a comprehensive exhibition history, Documents serves as an important resource for photographers, researchers, art historians, and art critics, in addition to students of art criticism and the interested reader alike.


Pull Quotes from Event
Diane Arbus Documents, Conversation Between Max Rosenberg & Jarrett Earnest, December 14, 2022

“This book is such a gift to future thinking and future writing, not just about Arbus or about photography, but about post-war American culture, the arts scene, and how to write.”
—Jarrett Earnest

“You could only assemble a book like this about a great artist. Only a great artist could sustain this level of discourse by some of the great writers and thinkers of our time.”
—Jarrett Earnest

Watch the trailer for Diane Arbus Documents


Publisher: David Zwirner Books/Fraenkel Gallery

Artists: Diane Arbus

Contributors: Max Rosenberg

Designer: Yolanda Cuomo, Bonnie Briant

Printer: VeronaLibri, Verona, Italy

Publication Date: 2022

Binding: Hardcover, with exposed spine

Dimensions: 8.5 × 11 in | 21.6 × 27.9 cm

Pages: 496

Reproductions: 69 texts in facsimile; 400 illustrations

ISBN: 9781644230657

Retail: $95 | $125 CAN | £75

Status: Available

Diane Arbus

Diane Arbus (1923–1971) is one of the most original and influential photographers of the twentieth century. She studied photography with Berenice Abbott, Alexey Brodovitch, and Lisette Model and had her first published photographs appear in Esquire in 1960. In 1963 and 1966 she was awarded John Simon Guggenheim Fellowships and was one of three photographers whose work was the focus of New Documents, John Szarkowski’s landmark exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in 1967. Arbus’s depictions of couples, children, female impersonators, nudists, New York City pedestrians, suburban families, circus performers, and celebrities, among others, span the breadth of the postwar American social sphere and constitute a diverse and singularly compelling portrait of humanity.

All Diane Arbus books

Max Rosenberg

Max Rosenberg is an art historian and director of research and exhibitions at David Zwirner. He has a Ph.D. in art history from Yale University, and he has received grants and awards from the Dedalus Foundation, the Fulbright Program, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), and the Getty Research Institute, among others. He has published articles and reviews in Art in America, Texture zur Kunst, and The Getty Research Journal, and he is the editor of Diane Arbus Documents.