Photography: Diane Arbus: Visionary Voyeurism

In illuminating the marginal, Diane Arbus became one of the most influential artists of her time

If you think you are capable of living without writing," said the German poet Rainer Maria Rilke, "do not write." He didn't live to meet Diane Arbus, but if he had seen her photographs he would have understood her right away. Those portraits of sideshow performers and weeping children, her matter-of-fact nudists and naked transvestites, her pictures of "them," her pictures of "us"--something of consequence is at stake here, and it's not just art. Arbus worked at the point where the voyeuristic and the sacramental converge. She lies in wait for your first misstep in her direction. Then she dares you...

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