One of National Museum Cardiff
’s main art exhibitions in 2009 will reveal the work of legendary New York photographer Diane Arbus (1923 -1971), who transformed the art of photography.
Diane Arbus, which comprises 69 black and white photographs including the rare and important portfolio of ten vintage prints: Box of Ten, 1971, is one of the best collections of Arbus’s work in existence and will be on display at the Museum from 9 May until 31 August 2009.
Throughout 2009, 18 museums and galleries across the UK will be showing over 30 Artist Rooms from the collection created by the dealer and collector Anthony d’Offay, and acquired by the nation in February 2008. Diane Arbus will be one of the first exhibitions on a tour of this collection.
Anthony d’Offay’s guiding principle for the creation of Artist Rooms was the concept of individual rooms devoted to particular artists, Diane Arbus being one of them. Capturing 1950s and 1960s America, Arbus is renowned for portraits of people who were then classed ‘on the outskirts of society’ – nudists, transvestites, circus performers and zealots. In one of her most famous works, Identical Twins, Roselle, NJ of 1967, the twins are photographed as if joined at the shoulder and hip with only three arms between them.
Her powerful, sometimes controversial, images often frame the familiar as strange and the strange or exotic as familiar. This singular vision and her ability to engage in such an uncompromising way with her subjects has made Arbus one of the most important and influential photographers of the twentieth century.
“It is a privilege to be part of the Artist Rooms Tour – an initiative that brings together high quality art with top establishments across the country,” said Nicholas Thornton, Head of Modern & Contemporary Art at Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales.
“The name Diane Arbus might not be familiar to everyone, but her portraits will be! As Arbus’s pioneering approach to the art has greatly influenced photographers across the world, we hope this exceptional exhibition of her work will have a positive impact on new and existing visitors to the Museum.”
Improving art displays, creating new galleries and radical changes to the way in which works are shown all form a part of Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales’s current drive to enhance the presentation of Wales’s art collection. Within this project, the Museum is developing new spaces for modern and contemporary art in order to create new opportunities for the display of its important and growing collection of post-1950 art and temporary exhibitions such as Diane Arbus.
This is the first time a national collection has been shared and shown simultaneously across the UK, and has only been made possible through the exceptional generosity of independent charity The Art Fund and, in Scotland, of the Scottish Government.
Artist Rooms on Tour with The Art Fund has been devised to take those displays beyond the collection’s owners, Tate and National Galleries of Scotland, and to reach and inspire new audiences across the country, particularly young people.
Artist Rooms is jointly owned and managed by National Galleries of Scotland and Tate on behalf of the nation. It has materially strengthened Tate’s ability to represent some of the most important art of the latter half of the twentieth century, and helps establish Scotland as a world-class destination for contemporary art.
The Art Fund is giving £250,000 per year to Artist Rooms on Tour with The Art Fund. The Scottish Government are giving £175,000 over three years.