Burlesque Comedienne in her dressing room, Atlantic City, NJ Diane Arbus, Burlesque Comedienne in Her Dressing Room, 1963.

Diane Arbus


Chosen by: Bif Naked, Gallery Member


“I have been a fan of Diane Arbus for many years. Her work and her life have always captivated me, and as a ‘dramatic’ and ‘passionate’ woman myself, I am drawn to her, and totally romanticize her life and death. I am intense about my admiration of Diane.

The photograph, “Tattooed Man at Carnival” was the first photo of hers I was gobsmacked by. I loved it. I was an impressionable age (I think I saw it while on a dirty punk tour, somewhere in America, in an art magazine) I was smitten with the visual messages tattoos sent me, and this subject had the addition of his unwavering stare. I was hypnotized, and fell into a lifetime of worshipping the artist-who-captured-him, the photographer Diane Arbus.

When I saw this photograph, Burlesque Comedienne, I fell off of my chair. This was such a moving and important piece for me… on many levels.

I know that Diane was devoted to her technique and subjects, and I love that about her!

This particular portrait spoke to me on such a deep level, as I felt as though she may as well have inserted me in this very familiar (to me) surrounding: the dressing room, alone. It is a very real, relevant, and accurate portrayal of the starkness of the time spent in that room, the intimacy Diane shares with the subject is enviable, and the lucky viewers are intrigued.

I, however, am drunk on it… intoxicated by the imagined heaviness the air might have, by the smell of the subject’s hair.

I feel as though I’m standing beside Diane as she takes the photograph, and she is nice enough to hold my hand as she takes the picture.”


Diane Arbus, Burlesque Comedienne in Her Dressing Room, Atlantic City, N.J., 1963. Silver gelatin print on paper. Collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery, Gift of Ann and Harry Malcolmson in honour of Claudia Beck and Andrew Gruft. This photograph is currently on display in An Autobiography of Our Collection. 

Bif Naked is one of thousands of people who follows the Gallery on Facebook, and she has a few platinum albums you may have heard of.

One Comment

  1. Very passionate article. This is the first time I saw “Burlesque Comedienne” by Arbus and I really found it to be a striking piece. The lack of glamour that surrounds her is depressing, however, the subjects stern look brings you out of this depression. She stares at you, challenging you and seems strong as if she is not in need of the viewers pity.
    The Wanderfull Traveler

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