Oct 05, 2023 - Sale 2647

Sale 2647 - Lot 253

Price Realized: $ 16,250
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 7,000 - $ 10,000
DIANE ARBUS (1923-1971)
Portrait of Germaine Greer (1939- ). Silver print, the image measuring 10 1/4x9 3/4 inches (26x24.8 cm.), the sheet 14x11 inches (35.6x27.9 cm.), with the "a diane arbus print" with Doon Arbus' signature and the numeric notation in ink, and copyright credit and reproduction limitation stamps on verso. 1971

Provenance: Acquired directly from the Artist; to John Gerbino, circa 1971

This photograph, as well as lots 57-58 and 252 in this auction, was gifted to John Gerbino by Diane Arbus. Gerbino was, at the time, a young art director, and the two were acquaintances and colleagues from 1964, when Gerbino worked at Harper's Bazaar and Arbus was working as a freelance photographer, until her death in 1971. The two shared a level of respect and admiration, such as that when Arbus was preparing work for her participation in the 1967 exhibition "New Documents" at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, she asked Gerbino to review her contact sheets.

In 1969, as Art Director for Essence magazine, Gerbino hired Arbus to illustrate two stories: "How Radical is Black Youth?" published in November 1970 and "Conversation: Ida Lewis and Rev. Albert B. Cleage, Jr." published just one month later. In 1971 Gerbino went to work for the magazine New Woman and it was in that role that he hired Arbus to take images of Germaine Greer. Greer had just published her landmark book The Female Eunuch, and the radical text was receiving overwhelming attention. However, these portraits were never published.

Each of the portraits offered here reveal the essential qualities that make Arbus' work unique and noteworthy, including a high level of intimacy with her sitter, an unusual perspective, and a keen eye toward the inner life of her subject. The Greer portrait in particular is startling in its immediacy and appearance of candid rawness. Included in this run is a postcard from Arbus to Gerbino, in which she describes this sitting and Greer as terrific, bold, outrageous, silly, "all sorts of things" And indeed the single image offered here seems to imply that this single moment in which the camera's lens captures its sitter is not nearly enough.