TIME Diane Arbus

The Diane Arbus List: Photographers Discuss the Legend’s Early Days

As her retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum of Art draws to a close, we take a look back at Diane Arbus' early work

Whether in painting, music, literature, as in all the Arts, we tend to know the masters’ oeuvres inside-out. We know Johannes Vermeer had 34 paintings; we know that Beethoven had nine symphonies. So when a newly discovered dusty musical manuscript appears in the hand of the composer, an previously unknown Vermeer appears from a private collection or a safely-vaulted Salinger book gets released years after his death, we all sit up and take notice. Is this work up to their standards? Has it changed our view of the artist or shown new early stages of their genius? Why have we not seen or heard of it before?

When I was a security guard at the Metropolitan Museum of Art some years back, I guarded a show of Robert Frank’s work everyday for two months. I became intimate with the work. To quell the everyday boredom, I’d asked my photo colleagues who came to the show what was their favorite images from his seminal book The Americans. After I quit the Met, I compiled their answers in a book called The Americans List — and even Frank participated.

As Diane Arbus’ landmark exhibition at the Met, which features many never-before-seen images, draws to a close, I asked photographers who knew her or were influenced by her work, including her daughter Amy Arbus, to assess whether what they saw surprised them or disappointed them. Their answers are compiled in this slideshow.

Diane Arbus: In the Beginning is on view at the Met Breuer until Nov. 27. It will then travel to San Francisco MOMA from Jan. 21 to April 30, 2017. The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue by Jeff L. Rosenheim published by The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Jason Eskenazi is a photographer based in New York City.

Natalie Matutschovsky, who edited this photo essay, is a senior photo editor at TIME.

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