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New York, United States of America 1923 – 1971

Child with toy hand grenade, in Central Park, New York City 1962 Place made: United States of America
Materials & Technique: photographs, gelatin silver photograph Support: backing board

Dimensions: printed image 20.0 h x 17.2 w cm sheet 32.8 h x 27.6 w cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1980
Accession No: NGA 80.3555

During workshops with Lisette Model, Arbus was encouraged to develop a direct, uncompromising approach to her subjects. She did this using the square configuration of a medium-format camera which Arbus most usually printed full frame with no cropping. Model also convinced Arbus, who had been interested in myth and ritual, that the more specific her approach to her subjects, the more universal the message. In many ways this image of a boy caught hamming it up in Central Park, with his contorted body and grimacing face, captures and prefigures many of the anxieties of America during the sixties, a country caught in an unwinnable war in Vietnam and undergoing seismic social change.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra