Child with Toy Hand Grenade in Central Park

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Arbus' Child with Toy Hand Grenade in Central Park, N.Y.C. 1962
Arbus' contact sheet from the photo shoot

Child with Toy Hand Grenade in Central Park, N.Y.C. 1962 (1962) is a famous black and white photograph by Diane Arbus.


The photograph Child with Toy Hand Grenade in Central Park, N.Y.C. 1962, by Diane Arbus, shows a boy, with the left strap of his shorts hanging off his shoulder, tensely holding his long, stringy, thin arms by his side. Clenched in his right hand is a toy replica hand grenade (an Mk 2 "Pineapple"), his left hand is held in a claw-like gesture, and his facial expression is maniacal.

The contact sheet[1] is "revealing with regards to Arbus' working method. She engages with the boy while moving around him, saying she was trying to find the right angle. The sequence of shots she took depicts a really quite ordinary boy who just shows off for the camera. However, the published single image belies this by concentrating on a freakish posture - an editorial choice typical for Arbus who would invariably pick the most expressive image, thereby frequently suggesting an extreme situation."[2] The boy in the photograph is Colin Wood, son of tennis player Sidney Wood.[3][4] An interview with Colin, with his recollections about the photograph, is presented in the BBC documentary The Genius of Photography.

According to The Washington Post, Colin does not specifically remember Arbus taking the photo, but that he was likely "imitating a face I'd seen in war movies, which I loved watching at the time." Later, as a teenager, he was angry at Arbus for "making fun of a skinny kid with a sailor suit", though he enjoys the photograph now.[3]

She catches me in a moment of exasperation. It's true, I was exasperated. My parents had divorced and there was a general feeling of loneliness, a sense of being abandoned. I was just exploding. She saw that and it's like...commiseration. She captured the loneliness of everyone. It's all people who want to connect but don't know how to connect. And I think that's how she felt about herself. She felt damaged and she hoped that by wallowing in that feeling, through photography, she could transcend herself.

— Colin Wood[3]


The photograph was displayed at the Museum of Modern Art in 1967 under the title Exasperated Boy with Toy Hand Grenade in the New Documents exhibition, a three-person show featuring works by Arbus, Lee Friedlander, and Garry Winogrand.[5][6]

It was published in the 1970 Time-Life book, The Camera.[7][8]

There are seven known original prints by Arbus of the photograph, one of which sold for $408,000 in April 2005 at Christie's in New York.[9] Posthumous prints from the original negative have been made by Neil Selkirk, authorised by Arbus's estate.[10]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Published in Diane Arbus: Revelations, 2003, p. 164, and online in the article "Paris Photo 6: Diane Arbus à la galerie Robert Miller". 2006. Archived from the original on 12 May 2016.
  2. ^ Bissell, Gerhard (2006). "Arbus, Diane". Allgemeines Künstlerlexikon (World Biographical Dictionary of Artists)., and "Diane Arbus" (condensed English version).
  3. ^ a b c Segal, David. "Double Exposure: a Moment With Diane Arbus Created a Lasting Impression." Washington Post, May 12, 2005. Retrieved February 3, 2010.
  4. ^ Hart, Hugh. Post-Developments. For the Subject of Arbus' 'Child with a Toy Hand Grenade,' Life Was Forever Altered at the Click of a Shutter. San Francisco Chronicle, October 19, 2003. Retrieved February 7, 2010.
  5. ^ Philip Gefter (22 March 2017). "The Exhibit That Transformed Photography". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2 October 2022.
  6. ^ "New Documents" (PDF) (Press release). Museum of Modern Art. 28 February 1967. Retrieved 2 October 2022.
  7. ^ Life Library of Photography: The Camera. Time-Life Books. 1970. p. 222.
  8. ^ Robert B. Stevens (September 1977). "The Diane Arbus Bibliography" (PDF). Exposure. Society for Photographic Education: 15. Retrieved 2 October 2022.
  9. ^ Pitman, Joanna. "Vintage Photography: the Market for Photographs Has Grown Rapidly Since the 1980s." Apollo, November 2005. Retrieved February 7, 2010.
  10. ^ Cascone, Sarah (14 March 2017). "Revisit Diane Arbus's Best-Known Photo on Her 94th Birthday". Artnet News. Retrieved 4 March 2022.

  11. ^ "Diane Arbus: Child with a Toy Hand Grenade in Central Park, N.Y.C. 1962 1962, printed after 1971" Tate. Accessed 23 November 2016
  12. ^ "Diane Arbus: Child with a Toy Hand Grenade in Central Park, N.Y.C. 1962" National Galleries of Scotland. Accessed 23 November 2016
  13. ^ Child with a toy hand grenade in Central Park, N.Y.C. National Galleries of Scotland. Accessed 23 November 2016

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