Diane Arbus 1926-1971
- Diane Arbus
- 'identical twins (cathleen and colleen), roselle, n. j.'
Estate of Diane Arbus
Private Japanese Collectors (gift of the above)
Stephen Wirtz Gallery, San Francisco
Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York, and Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco
Barbara Mathes Gallery, New York
Acquired by the present collection from the above, 2002
Other prints of this image:
Diane Arbus: Revelations, (New York, 2003, in conjunction with the exhibition originating at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art), pp. 182, 265, 270-1
Diane Arbus (New York: The Museum of Modern Art and Aperture, 1972), cover illustration
Chorus of Light: Photographs from The Sir Elton John Collection (Atlanta: High Museum of Art, 2000), p. 86
Diane Arbus’s Identical Twins (Cathleen and Colleen), Roselle, N. J., has become, since the photographer’s death, the image that is most associated with her large body of work. The photograph was chosen as the cover illustration for what was, until recently, Arbus’s only retrospective monograph. It served, too, as inspiration for the recurring motif of twin girls that appears throughout Stanley Kubrick’s film, The Shining. Embodying a culmination of the strongest themes in Arbus’s work – her fascinations with children, aberrance, and identity, among them – this signature image has never lost its power to engage.
The black borders on the print of Identical Twins offered here indicate that it was made between 1967 and 1969. In Diane Arbus: Revelations, Neil Selkirk gives a detailed account of Arbus’s evolving printing technique, using Identical Twins as an example. Originally, the 2 ¼-inch format negative carrier of Arbus’s enlarger revealed a slightly cropped version of her negatives. To show an entire exposure, Arbus turned to a ‘filed-out’ negative carrier which revealed the complete image, as well as a thin band of the surrounding film. The resulting photographs had a full or partial black border on two, three, or four sides. Arbus printed her photographs this way between 1967 and late 1969, at which time she changed negative carriers again, and began producing images with softer borders, with only an occasional hint of a black edge (Diane Arbus: Revelations, pp. 270-71).