Three girls sit on a bed in a silver gelatin print.

By Leslie Schuneman, curatorial intern

Diane Arbus is known for her psychologically compelling portraits of socialites and outliers alike. Arbus began her photography career in fashion and advertising and was published in “Vogue” and “Harper’s Bazaar”; yet, feeling that her work was banal and repetitious, Arbus took to the streets. She photographed everything from high-class women donning fur coats with their lapdogs to a family casually lounging in their nudist camp. Regardless of subject matter, Arbus probes the identity of her subjects with a light of familiarity and foreignness.

In this famous photograph, the triplets confront us with an intense gaze, but there still remains a sense of intimacy. They are pictured in their personal space – three identical beds and repetitive diamond wallpaper that echo their own similarities. The triplets almost appear to become one person as their dark skirts and bright white shirts bleed together; yet, their individual personalities play across their faces. Arbus stated that triplets reflected herself as they presented three different identities tied into one.

“We’ve all got an identity. You can’t avoid it. It’s what is left when you take away everything else.”

Diane Arbus
Three girls sit on a bed in a silver gelatin print.

Diane Arbus
(1923-1971)
“Triplets in Their Bedroom, N.J.”, 1963
Silver gelatin print
The William Dunlop Collection
Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art at Auburn University

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