Contemporary Photographs

Contemporary Photographs

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 202. 'Me as Arbus'.

Property from a Distinguished New York Collection

Gillian Wearing

'Me as Arbus'

Lot Closed

October 7, 06:03 PM GMT


25,000 - 35,000 USD

Lot Details


Gillian Wearing

B. 1963

'Me as Arbus'

gelatin silver print, mounted to aluminum, framed to the photographer's specifications, signed in ink on a Tanya Bonakdar Gallery label on the reverse, 2008, no. 2 in a an edition of 6 plus 2 artist's proofs

image: 56 ⅞ by 47 ⅜ in. (144.4 by 120.3 cm.)

frame: 60 ⅝ by 51 ¼ in. (154 by 130.2 cm.)

Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York, 2010

“If you scrutinize reality closely enough, if in some way you really, really get to it, it becomes fantastic.”

-Diane Arbus

Gillian Wearing emerged as a member of the Young British Artists, a loose group of provocative artists exhibiting together in London beginning in the late 1980s. Her work is deeply rooted in self-portraiture, documentation, and blurring the line between reality and fiction. 

Wearing made her mark with surreal, unsettling self-portraits. These photographs, in which only her eyes remain untouched by costume and masks, transform her into a number of individuals, including herself at different ages as well as family members. She has also created bodies of work involving the participation and documentation of strangers. In this way, Wearing’s work has been compared not only to Cindy Sherman but also Diane Arbus, who Wearing considers part of her “spiritual family.”   

Wearing’s Spiritual Family series, created in the early 2000s, features self-portraits in the guise of legendary artists such as August Sander, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Robert Mapplethorpe. Wearing’s self-portrait as Arbus depicts her waiting for the right moment to depress the shutter of her Mamiyaflex camera. Wearing sculpted a life-sized bronze of Diane Arbus in a similar pose; the sculpture was installed in 2001 at the southeast entrance of Central Park, where Arbus often photographed. 

A print of Me as Arbus was included in the recent retrospective Gillian Wearing: Wearing Masks at the Guggenheim Museum, New York. Only one other image from this series has appeared at auction: Me as Sander sold at Sotheby’s London in 2017.