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Madness, Disability, and the “Untitled” Series

Madness, Disability, and the “Untitled” Series

(p.133) 4 Madness, Disability, and the “Untitled” Series
Diane Arbus's 1960s
Frederick Gross
University of Minnesota Press

This chapter considers Arbus’s last work, now known as her “Untitled” series, which dealt with images of the mentally “retarded.” It suggests that the photographs in this series dislocate the stigma of madness associated with “freakish” physiognomies in photographic galleries. Sander’s “Inmate of an Asylum,” and Richard Avedon’s series of photographs of the mentally ill, entitled “Patients in a Mental Institution,” represent the ground from which Arbus’s “Untitled” series emerged. Analysis of this connection will follow a brief historical discussion of the representation of madness, and how it shifted in the 1960s.

Keywords:   Diane Arbus, women photographers, mentally retarded, mentally challenged, photographic galleries, madness

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