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An Emergency in Slow Motion

The Inner Life of Diane Arbus

This book is available for download with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device, and with iTunes on your computer. Books can be read with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


Diane Arbus was one of the most brilliant and revered photographers in the history of American art. Her portraits, in stark black and white, seemed to reveal the psychological truths of their subjects. But after she committed suicide at the age of 48, the presumed chaos and darkness of her own inner life became, for many viewers, inextricable from her work.
In the spirit of Janet Malcolm's classic examination of Sylvia Plath, The Silent Woman, William Todd Schultz's An Emergency in Slow Motion reveals the creative and personal struggles of Diane Arbus. Schultz, an expert in personality psychology, veers from traditional biography to look at Arbus's life through the prism of five central mysteries: her childhood, her outcast affinity, her sexuality, her time in therapy, and her suicide. He seeks not to give Arbus some definitive diagnosis, but to ponder some of the private motives behind her public works and acts. In this approach, Schultz not only goes deeper into her life than any previous writing, but provides a template to think about the creative life in general.
Schultz's careful analysis is informed, in part, by the recent release of Arbus's writing by her estate, as well as interviews with Arbus's last therapist. An Emergency in Slow Motion combines new revelations and breathtaking insights into a must-read psychobiography about a monumental artist -- the first new look at Arbus in 25 years.

From Publishers Weekly

16 May 2011 – Schultz's biography of the talented, deeply troubled photographer Diane Arbus, who committed suicide in 1971, takes the form of an ambitious "psychobiography" an account of Arbus's inner life in which he regards her photographs through the lens of psychological theory to speculate on her motivations and obsessions. It is the first account of Arbus's life since Patricia Bosworth's acclaimed Diane Arbus in 1989, and Schultz (editor of the Handbook of Psychobiography) makes good use of biographical material released by the Arbus estate since Bosworth's book as well as interviews with Arbus's psychotherapist to shed new light on the photographer's artistic aims, particularly her choice of subject matter: transvestites, circus performers, "freaks." He argues, for example, that Arbus's obsession with twins, whether literal twins or mirror images and doppelg ngers, was an expression of her own psychological defense mechanisms. "The bad and the good," he writes, "are kept far apart to protect the good from infiltration." Ideally, this approach of using the work to speculate on the artist's psyche would yield some fresh insight into the work itself. Instead, Schultz's interpretations of Arbus's photographs can be repetitive and shallow. Nonetheless, his sensitivity to Arbus's inner life and the links between mental illness and creativity make this a provocative, if not always persuasive, addition to the literature on Arbus.
An Emergency in Slow Motion
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  • 3 290 Ft
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Biography
  • Published: 06 September 2011
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
  • Print Length: 256 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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