“Lauro Morales, a Mexican dwarf in his hotel room in N.Y.C. 1970”. (1972/1973). Stamped “This print is part of the limited edition portfolio of ten Diane Arbus photographs”, numbered 47/50 by hand; stamped “A Diane Arbus photograph”; titled, numbered and signed by the printer Neil Selkirk and Diane Arbus' daugther Doon Arbus on the verso. Vintage gelatin silver print on barita paper. Image with blurred lines as issued. Sheet size 40.4×50.3 cm, image size 36.6×38.2 cm. Framed with passe partout.
Just before her tragic suicide in 1971 the American photographer Diane Arbus, world-famous for her photographs of eccentrics and the bizarre, made a portfolio of ten photographs called “A Box of Ten Photographs”. The photograph presented here was part of this groundbreaking portfolio. Five of the photographs in the portfolio, including the photograph of Lauro Morales in his hotel room, were featured in the renowned modern art magazine Artforum in May 1971. It was the first time the magazine presented photography exclusively. The editor, Philip Leider, later said about the feature: “With Diane Arbus, one could find oneself interested in photography or not, but one could no longer (…) deny its status as art”. The photographs were artworks that had their own artistic vision only approachable through the medium of photography.
Arbus only sold four copies of the planned edition of 50, and she only printed eight while she lived. At the time they were available for $1,000. The four sold copies went to photographer Richard Avedon, artist Jasper Johns, film director Mike Nichols and art director Bea Feitler. The rest of the eight printed copies are today known as unnumbered artist prints. After her death, and on behalf of her estate, her daughter Doon Arbus and her photographer friend Neil Selkirk printed the rest of the edition of 50 according to Arbus’ practices with blurred edges to the image etc. The photograph here is from this posthumous printed edition signed by both Doon Arbus and Neil Selkirk in 1972/1973. After her death, Diane Arbus' work harvested incredible acclaim. Her photographs were the first to be presented at a solo exhibition at MoMA in New York, and the same year she had also represented the US at the Venice Biennale with a solo show of the photographs.
Reference: John P. Jacobs: Diane Arbus. A Box of Ten Photographs. Smithsonian American Art Museum. Washington DC 2018. Illust. plate 5. Text p. 51–98.
Provenance: Bought at Sotheby's, Sweden in the 1970s by the previous owner, a private Scandinavian collector, who later sold the work to the present owner.