Amy Arbus

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Amy Arbus
Born (1954-04-16) April 16, 1954 (age 63)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Occupation Photographer
Years active 1976-present
Parent(s) Allan & Diane Arbus
Relatives sister Doon Arbus

Amy Arbus (born April 16, 1954) is an American, New York City-based, photographer. She teaches portraiture at the International Center of Photography, Anderson Ranch,[1] NORD photography[2] and the Fine Arts Work Center. She has published several books of photography, including The Fourth Wall which The New Yorker called her "masterpiece."[3] Her work has appeared in over 100 periodicals including The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone, Architectural Digest, and The New York Times Magazine.[4] She is the daughter of actor Allan Arbus and photographer Diane Arbus, the sister of writer and journalist Doon Arbus, and the niece of distinguished poet Howard Nemerov.[5][6]

Life and work[edit]

"On the Street"[edit]

From 1980 to 1990, Arbus had a monthly street style column in the Village Voice's entitled "On the Street".[7] On starting with the Village Voice, Arbus said that "I went to the Voice with a portfolio that I had taken of one woman, my friend Jan Collins...All they said to me was 'take a picture of anyone who makes you turn your head.'"[8] These photographs explore performances of self and the ways in which people used fashion as an expression of creativity.[9] Her column often featured portraits of celebrities and tastemakers early in their careers including Madonna, fashion designer Anna Sui, nightlife impresario Susanne Bartsch, Andre Walker and The Clash.[8] Arbus shot her subjects from slightly below to "suggest they were monuments."[7]

In 2006, Welcome Books published On the Street : 1980-1990,[10] a collection of more than 70 of the most influential images from Arbus' time at the Village Voice, those that "lend a voice to an era when individuality and self-expression were fighting for breathing room in a culture that valued economics over creativity."[11] John Spellos then created a documentary called On the Street[12] following Arbus as she tracked down the subjects of these photographs 25 years after they were taken.

Recent Work[edit]

In a talk at UCLA's Hammer Museum, Arbus described her reluctance to become a photographer and her years studying at the Berklee College of Music and hanging out with The Cars (then still unknown), before studying at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.[13] In an interview published in The Guardian, she explains her initial reluctance to enter the field of photography, stating, "I was holding myself back, afraid to compete with this legend... But I remember the minute the viewfinder came up to my eye, I thought, I'm home."[14]


  • No Place Like Home (1986).
  • The Inconvenience of Being Born (1999).
  • On the Street 1980–1990 (2006).
  • The Fourth Wall (2008).
  • After Images (2013).


Her work is held in the following public collections:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Anderson Ranch Arts Center". Anderson Ranch Arts Center. Retrieved 29 December 2014. 
  2. ^ "MEET OUR FACULTY | NORD Photography". Retrieved 2016-03-05. 
  3. ^ Als, Hilton (2008-05-19). "Show People". The New Yorker. ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved 2016-03-05. 
  4. ^ "Amy Arbus Photography | About | Bio". Archived from the original on 2016-03-06. Retrieved 2016-03-05. 
  5. ^ Thurman, Judith (2003-10-13). "Exposure Time". The New Yorker. ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved 2016-03-04. 
  6. ^ Heron, Liz; Williams, Val (1996-01-01). Illuminations: Women Writing on Photography from the 1850s to the Present. Duke University Press. ISBN 0822317923. 
  7. ^ a b Goldberg, Vicki (2014-03-20). "Amy Arbus: ‘On the Street 1980-1990’". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-03-05. 
  8. ^ a b AnOther. "Amy Arbus on 80s Street Style Photography". AnOther. Retrieved 2016-03-05. 
  9. ^ "NPR Exclusive: On The Street, Then And Now". Retrieved 2016-03-05. 
  10. ^ Arbus, Amy; Homes, A. M (2006-01-01). On the street: 1980-1990. New York: Welcome Books. ISBN 1599620154. 
  11. ^ "On the Street". Retrieved 2016-03-05. 
  12. ^ "On the Street". Elephant Eye Films. 
  13. ^ [1] Archived September 13, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  14. ^ "Christopher Turner: Desperately seeking Diane?". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 December 2014. 
  15. ^ "Photographs by Amy Arbus - NYPL Digital Collections". Retrieved 2016-03-05. 
  16. ^ "MuseumofModernArt/collection". GitHub. Retrieved 2016-03-05. 

External links[edit]