In the late 1950s Arbus created a little-known body of work in and around the movie houses of Times Square. Around this time, she also photographed such amusement parks as Coney Island and Disneyland, temples of illusion that offered a kind of ready-made American mythology. In these mass entertainments, Arbus first discerned elements of the fantastic and grotesque that she would later unearth throughout American society in her celebrated portraits of sideshow performers, nudists, and transvestites. This darkly funny picture also prefigures the work of artists of the 1980s who examined the strategies and effects of media imagery.
Inscription: Stamped on print, verso, top left: "ALL RIGHTS RESERVED // This image may not be reproduced in any // way whatsoever without written permission // from // The Estate of Diane Arbus."; top center: "Copyright (c) 19__ // The Estate of Diane Arbus"; top right: "a diane arbus print // doon arbus administrator"; dealer inscription in pencil on print, verso, bottom center: "A9412.038.C"
Estate of Diane Arbus; [Robert Miller Gallery, New York]
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Photographs: A Decade of Collecting," June 5, 2001–September 4, 2001.
Still from Horrors of the Black Museum, released in NYC on 4.29.1959; Arbus's appointment book for 9.1 and 9.2.1961 note: "Horror of the Black Museum" at the Empire Theater. See rolls 1122 and 1124 for related images (same scream, different moment).