(New York, 1970, an edition of 50), a portfolio of 10 photographs, each signed, titled, dated, and numbered '45/50' by the photographer's daughter, Doon Arbus, in ink and with the portfolio and Arbus Estate reproduction rights stamps on the reverse, 1963-70, printed in the early 1970s by Neil Selkirk from DIANE ARBUS's negatives; together with the title printed with 'A Box of Ten Photographs' and the photographer's signature and date in facsimile, and 8 (of 10) individual interleaves printed with the photographer's facsimile captions and dates. Folio, in the original clear Plexiglas box
The Collection of Graham Nash
Sotheby's New York, Photographs from the Collection of Graham Nash, 25 April 1990, Sale 6003, Lot 408
Christie's Los Angeles, 26 June 1997, Sale 8674, Lot 10
Pace/MacGill, New York
Acquired by the present owner from the above, 1999
'A Jewish Giant at Home with his Parents in the Bronx, N.Y., 1970'
'Boy with a Straw Hat Waiting to March in a Pro-War Parade, N.Y.C., 1967'
'A Family on Their Lawn One Sunday in Westchester, N.Y., 1968'
'The King and Queen of a Senior Citizens Dance, N.Y.C., 1970'
'Mexican Dwarf in his Hotel Room in N. Y. C., 1970'
'Xmas Tree in a Living Room in Levittown, L. I., 1963'
'Identical Twins, Roselle, N. J., 1967'
'Retired Man and His Wife at Home in a Nudist Camp one Morning, N. J., 1963'
'A Young Man in Curlers at Home on West 20th Street, N. Y. C., 1966'
'A Young Brooklyn Family Going for a Sunday Outing, N. Y. C., 1966'
Diane Arbus began work on A Box of Ten Photographs, her only portfolio, in 1969. The final selection of photographs, with its pairing of older and quite recent images, served for Arbus as a statement of her achievement in photography thus far. Modestly titled, A Box of Ten Photographs is, in many respects, a remarkable portfolio. It contains a high number of Arbus's most iconic images: Identical Twins, Roselle, N. J.; A Family on Their Lawn one Sunday in Westchester; A Jewish Giant at Home with His Parents, among them. The images in this portfolio encapsulate the major themes in Arbus's work: her fascinations with children, aberrance, conformity, and identity. The ten photographs are ones that Arbus felt represented her best work, and that have, over the decades since her death, taken their place within the history of photography. A Box of Ten Photographs not only encapsulates a group of Arbus's most important images, but also shows the extent to which she had a prescient understanding of the lasting value of her own work.
At the time of her death in 1971, Arbus had completed the prints for eleven or twelve portfolios, although she did not sign the prints until they were sold. Only four sets of the portfolio, assembled and signed by Arbus, have been located. Of these original sets, one was purchased by Richard Avedon as a gift for Mike Nichols; Arbus gave another set, with an extra photograph, to Avedon; a third portfolio, also with an extra photograph, was sold to art director Bea Feitler and is now in the collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum; and a fourth was purchased by artist Jasper Johns. After Arbus's death, her estate designated the remaining extant prints as artist's proofs, and completed the intended edition of fifty portfolios with prints made by Neil Selkirk (cf. Revelations, pp. 220 and 343).
Very few examples of A Box of Ten Photographs have appeared on the market. In the past decade, only two complete portfolios have been offered at auction: in these rooms in 2005; and at Phillips, New York, in 2003. The portfolio offered here was in the collection of Graham Nash, and was sold here in the historic sale of his collection in April 1990.
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