Shetland Museum to host ARTIST ROOMS exhibition of legendary American photographer Diane Arbus

Shetland Amenity Trust is set to play host to a landmark exhibition this August featuring the iconic work of Diane Arbus, one of the most influential photographers of the 20th century.

Diane Arbus A young man and his pregnant wife in Washington Square Park, N.Y.C. 1965

ARTIST ROOMS Tate and National Galleries of Scotland © The Estate of Diane Arbus

Shetland Museum and Archives is the most northerly venue in the British Isles for this touring ARTIST ROOMS exhibition of her work, presented in partnership with Tate and National Galleries of Scotland. Arbus’s extraordinary portraits will be on display in the Gadderie from 19 August to 12 November 2023.

Born in New York in 1923, Diana Arbus is considered one of the great figures of American photography, pioneering a bold and original approach which bridged the gap between documentary photography and fine art.

The exhibition will include many of the artist's most iconic portraits, and features more than 30 black and white photographs spanning her career from the mid-1950s until her death in 1971. Arbus began photographing in the 1940s, and her first published image appeared in Esquire magazine in 1960. Over the next ten years she produced a remarkable body of work in which she documented the lives, appearances and emotions of people, celebrating the extraordinary in the ordinary.

Through her commitment to ‘photograph everybody’, Arbus was drawn to marginalised people and communities, and the sub-cultures of post-war American society. She built up relationships of trust and respect with her subjects to produce powerful portraits of astonishing intimacy. Her psychologically acute images of couples, children, circus performers, drag artists, suburban families and celebrities often reveal a difference between how people want to be perceived by others, and how they appear.

The exhibition begins with Arbus's early works taken with a 35mm camera, and features a series of compelling portraits in the distinctive square format she began using in 1962, made famous through such images as Identical twins, Roselle, N.J. 1966. A highlight within the exhibition is the presentation of A box of ten photographs 1969-71, a rare portfolio of original prints which Arbus produced shortly before her death in 1971. For Arbus the ten images represented who she was as an artist and how she saw her work in the world, a legacy that became more solidified with her tragic suicide.

Hazel Sutherland, chief executive of Shetland Amenity Trust said: “It is a real honour to welcome this compelling exhibition to Shetland. Arbus was a pioneer of social documentary photography, and her work is bold and inspiring, driven by a fascination for the diversity of human life. We are delighted that Shetland Museum has been chosen by ARTIST ROOMS, Tate and National Galleries Scotland as one of the UK partners for this prestigious tour.”

There will be a series of gallery talks and workshops for adults and young people to accompany the exhibition.

Diane Arbus’s singular vision redefined documentary photography. This exhibition offers a rare opportunity to encounter her remarkable work at first hand, and a compelling insight into the haunting and evocative imagery for which she is recognised worldwide.

ARTIST ROOMS is a national collection of international modern and contemporary art. Its programme reaches audiences across the UK and is developed through local partnerships.

ARTIST ROOMS presents the work of international artists in solo exhibitions, drawn from a national touring collection jointly owned by Tate and the National Galleries of Scotland. The programme is shown across the UK with the support of Art Fund, Henry Moore Foundation, Arts Council England and Creative Scotland.

Related Posts

Profound new exhibition, Polar North, captures the fragility of the Arctic landscape

A profound new exhibition which captures the fragile and shifting beauty of the Arctic landscape opens this Sunday 10 March at Da ...

Read more

‘Logical Confusion’, a retrospective exhibition of Mike McDonnell opens at the Shetland Museum

An ambitious new exhibition dedicated to the artistry of well-known local artist Mike McDonnell opened this weekend at the Shetland ...

Read more

Bold exhibition featuring photography by legendary Diane Arbus opens at Shetland Museum and Archives

A new display of powerful and iconic photographs by Diane Arbus, one of the most influential photographers of the 20th century, opened ...

Read more

Summer Maritime Programme

Visit the Shetland Museum this summer as we celebrate our maritime heritage with themed exhibitions, activities and tours.

Read more

Fisherwomen exhibition is now open

It was a busy afternoon in Da Gadderie at Shetland Museum & Archives on Saturday (13 May) for the official opening of 'Fisherwomen' by ...

Read more

Bold new photographic exhibition celebrates the significant role of women in the fishing industry

A compelling new photographic exhibition that pays homage to the integral role women have played in the fishing industry will open ...

Read more

A Royal Display

To commemorate the Royal Coronation our curators have been working on a fascinating new display that shows objects that were worn or ...

Read more

Immersive new art installation pays tribute to Shetland’s wadmal

Shetland Museum and Archives continues its wide-ranging programme of exhibitions with the opening of a new art installation ...

Read more

New watercolour exhibition at Da Gadderie inspired by the Shetland landscape

Shetland Museum and Archives will be unveiling a contemporary art exhibition in its Gadderie space this weekend that is inspired by ...

Read more

School talent on display in new ‘Art’s Cool’ exhibition in Da Gadderie

A colourful new schools’ art exhibition opens on Saturday 12 November in Da Gadderie at Shetland Museum and Archives.

Read more

Land of Straw Art Exhibition

Opening today, Berenice Carrington’s exhibition at the Shetland Museum and Archives focuses on the agricultural cycle of growing ...

Read more

New exhibition - to excite young readers and art lovers

A new exhibition opens this week at the Shetland Museum and Archives. 'A’ll Tell Dee a Story' is the work of local author and ...

Read more

Bold new art exhibition celebrates Shetland nature

Shetland Museum and Archives is delighted to unveil a bold new art exhibition in its Gadderie space that is inspired by Shetland ...

Read more

Visit the Fair Isle Chairs exhibition from the comfort of your own armchair

The Shetland Museum and Archives are delighted to extend their learning programme online with the launch of a new video exploring the ...

Read more

Why burn peats?

As part of the Between Islands project, Shetland’s new online exhibition, ‘Fair Game’ examines three customs that are now ...

Read more