Lot 165
  • 165

Diane Arbus

250,000 - 350,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Diane Arbus
  • National Junior Interstate Dance Champions of 1963, Yonkers, N. Y.
  • Gelatin silver print
signed and dedicated 'for Jean . . .' in ink in the margin, 1963, printed no later than 1967


The photographer to the present owner, circa 1967


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, 2009), p. 349

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


This impressive lifetime print, with its rich tonality and dark negative edges at the top and bottom of the image, is on Agfa paper with a semi-glossy surface. It is in very good condition. The signature and inscription are diminutive but bold. As is typical of Arbus's prints, there is very slight waviness at the margin edges. In raking light, the following are visible: 2 small, thin, sharp creases at the right side of the print that do not appear to break the emulsion, small white matte deposits of indeterminate nature in the upper margin corners, and a tiny spot of original retouching, In the lower margin, near the edge of the paper, there are notations, likely made by a framer, in blue ballpoint ink. On the reverse of the print are tiny speckled deposits, which are often characteristics of prints made by Arbus, and are likely from processing.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

The photograph offered here was given by Diane Arbus to the present owner who, in 1967, worked at Paraphernalia, the trend-setting boutique on Madison Avenue at 67th Street.  It was given by Arbus in thanks for doing her make-up for the opening reception of New Documents at The Museum of Modern Art.  The event was an important one for Arbus and proved to be the only significant exhibition of her work during her lifetime.

Paraphernalia was opened in late 1965 by British entrepreneur Paul Young and clothing manufacturer Carl Rosen, and was based on the London boutiques of Mary Quant.  Convinced that America's mod youth were being underserved, the partners created a unique shopping experience and design workshop with affordable psychedelic and Op-and-Pop-influenced clothing that was often disposable.  Innovative young designers, including Betsey Johnson, Joel Schumacher (later a filmmaker), and Deanna Littell created limited-edition clothing and pioneered the use of new materials such as vinyl, Day-Glo gels, PVC, foil, and paper.  Sleekly and minimally designed by Ulrich Franzen, Paraphernalia was more club than dress shop, with its blasting music, video displays, and stage for dancers. It was a necessary destination for anyone who considered themselves hip and fashion-conscious and who wanted to be part of the scene.  With her interest in American subcultures—and her experience as a fashion photographer—Paraphernalia was just the sort of place to which Arbus would have been attracted. 

The present owner of this photograph was one of the sales staff who embodied the Paraphernalia ideal.  Slim, boyish, and above all, thoroughly au courant, they were essential to the store’s success. Playwright Wendy Wasserstein said that she thought that they ‘were the most sophisticated people in the world.  I thought that just by working there, they were practically sleeping with Mick Jagger.’  

Andy Warhol wrote, ‘Paraphernalia sometimes stayed open till two in the morning.  You’d go in and try on things and ‘Get Off My Cloud’ would be playing—and you’d be buying the clothes in the same atmosphere you’d probably be wearing them in.  And the sales people in the little boutiques were always so hip and relaxed, as if the stores were just another room in their apartment—they’d sit around, read magazines, watch TV, smoke dope’ (Popism: The Warhol Sixties, p. 116).

This signed and personally-inscribed print of Junior Interstate Ballroom Dance Champions is one of only a few extant lifetime prints of the image.  In addition to the present print, only two other lifetime examples signed by the photographer are believed to have been offered at auction: in these rooms, in December 2014 and October 1990.