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Women's History Month

Village Landmarks - Diane Arbus and 131 1/2 Charles Street

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Today marks the 86th anniversary of the birth of photographer Diane Arbus.

Diane Nemerov was born in New York City on March 14, 1923. In 1941, at the age of 18 she married Allan Arbus who worked in the advertising department of her family’s store. She received a Graflex 6x9 camera the same year. They started working in fashion, with Allan at the camera and Diane as stylist and art director.

She began to work independently in 1957 and after separating from her husband in 1959 (he later went on to become an actor) she moved to a rear carriage house at 131 1/2 Charles Street where she lived for nine years. During those productive years she received two Guggenheim Fellowships (in 1963 and 1966) and had her first exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art (1964). In 1968 she moved from Greenwich Village to East Village’s historic Renwick Triangle at 120 East 10th Street. In 1970 Diane Arbus moved to the Westbeth Artists Housing in the West Village where she lived until July 26, 1971.

Check the Catalog for more information on Diane Arbus. I recommend the book Untitled, the biography by Patricia Bosworth, and the highly fictionalized feature film Fur.

The Bosworth biography lists Arbus’s Greenwich Village address as 121 1/2 Charles Street, which interestingly enough is just about the location of another village landmark, Margaret Wise Brown’s relocated house. Other sources including the May 2, 2006 Greenwich Village Historical District Extension Designation Report and the address book notes associated with the discovery of her Hubert’s Museum photographs list her address as 131 1/2 Charles Street.

On a side note: architect Stanford White grew up in 118 East 10th Street, also part of the Renwick Triangle. White was murdered by Harry Thaw in 1906 and the murder trial was held at the Jefferson Market Courthouse.

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