Lot 37
  • 37

Diane Arbus

200,000 - 300,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Diane Arbus
  • Gelatin silver print
  • 15 x 14 7/8 inches
flush-mounted, signed, titled, and dated by the photographer in pencil, inscribed with the Arbus Estate authentication number and signed by her daughter, Doon Arbus, in ink, and stamped on the reverse, framed, a San Francisco Museum of Modern Art exhibition label on the reverse, 1963


Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, 1995


San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Diane Arbus: Revelations, October 2003 - February 2004, and traveling to

Los Angeles County Museum of Art, February - May 2004

Houston, Museum of Fine Arts, June - August 2004

New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, February - May 2005

Essen, Museum Folkwang, June - September 2005

London, Victoria and Albert Museum, October 2005 - January 2006

Barcelona, Fondacion La Caixa, February - May 2006

Minneapolis, Walker Art Center, July - October 2006


Diane Arbus: Revelations (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 2003), pp. 40 and 184

Diane Arbus (Aperture, 1972), unpaginated

Photography/Venice '79 (New York: Rizzoli, 1979), p. 337

Manfred Heiting, et al.At the Still Point: Photographs from the Manfred Heiting Collection in the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Volume II, Part 1 (Los Angeles and Amsterdam, in conjunction with the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 2009), p. 349

LIFE Library of Photography: Documentary Photography (New York, 1972), p. 209

Catalogue Note

As early as 1961 Diane Arbus made notes about a possible project to photograph winners of all sorts—‘the utmost, the winners, the most, the first, rituals, contests, fame, immortality, Secret Rites’—followed by a listing of events she considered worthy of investigation.  In her 1962 notebooks, Arbus jotted further thoughts, and by September of that year, these became the basis of her 1963 Guggenheim project proposal, American Rites, Manners and Customs. She wrote in her official statement, 

‘I want to photograph the considerable ceremonies of our present because we tend while living here and now to perceive only what is random and barren and formless about it.  While we regret that the present is not like the past and despair of its ever becoming the future, its innumerable inscrutable habits lie in wait for their meaning.  I want to gather them, like somebody’s grandmother putting up preserves, because they will have been so beautiful’ (Revelations, p. 41). 

Between January and October 1963, Arbus was present at a number of contests, among them ‘Mother of the Year,’ ‘spaghetti eating,’ ‘Freckles,’ and ‘Miss Lo-Cal.’ The present image was made in February 1963 (ibid., p. 334). 

In 1967, Junior Interstate Ballroom Dance Champions, Yonkers, N. Y., was chosen by John Szarkowski for the famous New Documents show at The Museum of Modern Art, the only significant exhibition of Arbus's work during her lifetime.  This landmark exhibition showcased the work of three contemporary photographers—Diane Arbus, Lee Friedlander, and Garry Winogrand—and charted a radical new direction in what had previously been thought of as 'documentary photography.' 

Prints of Junior Interstate Ballroom Dance Champions, Yonkers, N. Y., signed by Arbus are rare.  In addition to the present print, only one other lifetime print signed by the photographer is believed to have been offered at auction, a print sold in these rooms in October 1990.