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Exhibition of legendary photographer Diane Arbus's work to be displayed at National Museum Cardiff as part of the first UK Tour

"A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you, the less you know." Diane Arbus

One of National Museum Cardiff's main art exhibitions in 2009 will reveal the work of legendary New York photographer Diane Arbus (1923 -1971), who transformed the art of photography.

Diane Arbus, which comprises 69 black and white photographs including the rare and important portfolio of ten vintage prints: Box of Ten, 1971, is one of the best collections of Arbus's work in existence. A large selection of these images will be on display at the Museum from 9 May until 31 August 2009.

Throughout 2009, 18 museums and galleries across the UK will be showing over 30 ARTIST ROOMS from the collection created by the dealer and collector Anthony d'Offay, and acquired by the nation in February 2008. Diane Arbus will be one of the first exhibitions on a tour of this collection.

Anthony d'Offay's guiding principle for the creation of ARTIST ROOMS was the concept of individual rooms devoted to particular artists, Diane Arbus being one of them. Capturing 1950s and 1960s America, Arbus is renowned for portraits of nudists, circus performers, middle class families and zealots.

Her powerful, sometimes controversial images often frame the familiar as strange and the strange or exotic as familiar. This singular vision and her ability to engage in such an uncompromising way with her subjects has made Arbus one of the most important and influential photographers of the twentieth century.

"It is a privilege to be part of the ARTIST ROOMS Tour - an initiative that brings together high quality art with top establishments across the country," said Nicholas Thornton, Head of Modern & Contemporary Art at Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales.

"Arbus's pioneering approach to the art has greatly influenced photographers across the world, we hope this exceptional exhibition of her work will have a positive impact on new and existing visitors to the Museum."

ARTIST ROOMS is the first time a national collection has been shared and shown simultaneously across the UK. This has been made possible through the exceptional generosity of The Art Fund and, in Scotland, the Scottish Government.

Anthony d'Offay's guiding principle for the creation of ARTIST ROOMS was the concept of individual rooms devoted to particular artists. ARTIST ROOMS on Tour with The Art Fund has been devised to take those displays beyond the collection's owners, Tate and National Galleries of Scotland, and to reach and inspire new audiences across the country, particularly of young people.

ARTIST ROOMS is jointly owned and managed by National Galleries of Scotland and Tate on behalf of the nation. It has materially strengthened Tate's ability to represent some of the most important art of the latter half of the twentieth century, and helps establish Scotland as a world-class destination for contemporary art.

The Art Fund is giving £250,000 per year to ARTIST ROOMS on Tour with The Art Fund supported by the Scottish Government. The Scottish Government is giving £175,000 over three years.

National Museum Cardiff is one of Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales's seven national museums. The others are St Fagans: National History Museum, the National Roman Legion Museum, Big Pit: National Coal Museum, the National Wool Museum, the National Slate Museum and the National Waterfront Museum.

Entry to each Museum is free thanks to the support of the Welsh Assembly Government.


For further information, please contact Catrin Mears, Communications Officer on 029 2057 3185 or 07920 027067 or email