Last fall, I was engrossed in Arthur Lubow’s exhaustive Diane Arbus: Portrait of a Photographer, in which he makes brief mention of a 1950 vacation that Diane and Allan Arbus took in the Adirondacks on the shores of Lake Champlain.
That area is close to my heart, so I decided to do more research on the topic. I consulted a number of sources, most significantly Patricia Bosworth’s Arbus biography and Judith Stein’s Eye of the Sixties: Richard Bellamy and the Transformation of Modern Art, and felt there was enough for a story that would be of interest to Arbus buffs and those with an interest in the Adirondacks. Luckily the editors at Adirondack Life magazine agreed and the story appears in their Photography 2017 issue.
Most of Arbus’s pre-1956 photos are not available to researchers, so there was little to go on in terms of setting the scene. The few relevant images I describe in the story that are available are reprinted in Stein’s book and in Diane Arbus: Revelations.
Above: Dick Bellamy by Diane Arbus, 1950. Nancy Christopherson and Diane Arbus by Allan Arbus, 1950.
Through several local sources in the Westport, NY area I tried to nail down exactly where the Arbuses and their guests would have stayed, but in the end the best guess – based on some source material Lubow provided – was Windward Inn Cottages.
In the totality of Diane Arbus’s influential career the her Westport vacation is a mere footnote, but it was not without the romantic drama and intrigue that would pervade so much of her life and work.