Diane Arbus (1923-1971) once said that her photos sought to capture “the space between who someone is and who they think they are”. Famous as a “photographer of freaks” or people whose normality seemed, at the time, to be ugly or surreal, she has become one of America’s best-known photographers and one of its most controversial.
This unambiguous picture of a man in curlers with long lacquered fingernails and plucked eyebrows smoking a cigarette and dressing for an annual drag ball was taken in 1966 and first shown in 1967 at the Museum of Modern Art in an exhibition entitled “New Documents”. At the time, the photo seemed confrontational but, today, it’s now seen as elegiac and empathetic rather than threatening.
This is a photograph of the original Arbus ‘Man in Curlers’ image now displayed, as part of the vast photographic collection owned by Andy Pilara, at ‘Pier 24 Photography’ on the Embarcadero in San Francisco, California.