Hi all, this is what i posted a few days ago in a Large format photography forum, but unfortunately the feedback was very limited ...
I would like to know , if any of you has any opinion on the latest Arbus show ....
This is the original post :
Perfect day to go to a museum in Los Angeles yesterday: beautiful sunny day with that spring temperature that you wish lasts forever, not too hot not too cold....
The first surprise waits for me at the ticket office , where they tell me that to view the Arbus work i have to pay $ 12 which is the double of all the other shows at the LACMA presently . Oh well, i think , it's fine , for Arbus i will do this.
As soon as i get inside the building i start seeing in the distance all the pieces that i have come to know and love so much ( yes , i think you can really love a print ) . My heart fills with anticipacion . The room is crowded but not filled with people , and i hear lot's of people giggling at some of Arbus work ; some say -<oh , that's creepy !-> , some -<oh, my, my !>-etc.etc. The rooms are hardly quiet for a good "listening " of the prints , but that is also something i can cope with .
I start noticing something that i never noticed in Arbus work . The images lacked power.
The choices of images was excellent : all the famous Arbus images we have come to know , plus many potentially beautiful photographs of unpublished work .
A big percentage of images displayed i had noticed had been printed not by Arbus , but by Neil Selkirk . Now , i don't know if you agree with me , i have always considered the carachteristic murkiness of Arbus prints of vital importance to stimulate deep emotions in the viewer : the way she printed the images was the final and complementing stage to the effectivness of the image itself .
Here i was looking at LACMA's show yesterday , the ingenious work of Arbus printed by someone who had put some of his style .
Do not misunderstand me , the images where printed technically very well, they actually showed a mastery of B/W superior , i am sure, to Diane Arbus skills in the darkroom , but they had lost their magic.
Some of the images where outstanding ( i remember a jewel-like small print of a boy in a windy field ) , but almost all of them had more tonal separation , more contrast , and had lost that warm tone characteristic of Arbus work ( O.K., now i am repeating myself ).
To add that in this exhibit they have really tried to elevate D.A. to a cult . In a Room there was her enlarger , with many reject prints pinned to two walls yellowed by fixer, pictures of her ..... She was a Star . I don't think she would have agreed to all of this . I heard the Arbus family has been hardly criticized for their greed , but i won't get into that ... Forgive my ranting , but for me it is hard to imagine Diane Arbus work if not printed by the artist , i think that with this show they have deserved one applause and one critique . The applause is for showing work that has never been shown before , and the critique....well, they have done a disservice to all those young artists students and photographers who have never seen an original Arbus print of "Patriotic young man" or others , with its original raw energy....