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Child with a Toy Hand Grenade, Central Park, N.Y.C., 1962
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DIANE ARBUS (1923-1971)\nChild with a Toy Hand Grenade, Central Park, N.Y.C., 1962\ngelatin silver print\nsigned, dated and dedicated "For P and P..." in ink (in the margin); signed, titled and dated in pencil (on the verso)\n11 7/8 x 11 5/8in. (30.2 x 29.5cm.)
US
NY, US
US

notes

Diane Arbus's Child with a Toy Hand Grenade, Central Park, N.Y.C. 1962 is considered to be one of the most important and influential images in the history of 20th century art and Post-Modernist thought and critical theory. This image has become a visual synonym for America in the Pre-Vietnam era of the early 1960's, a troubled nation at a time of significant cultural unrest.

Diane Arbus met the author and visual artist Pati Hill in New York City in the early 1940s and they remained close friends for thirty years, during which time Hill moved to France in the 1950s. Hill has published numerous novels including One Thing I Know, which was dedicated to Arbus and dates from 1962, the same year that Arbus's Child with a Toy Hand Grenade, N.Y.C. was taken.

Arbus once described Hill as "enormously complex her thinking, doing, saying, are all three ways working simultaneously and fast (but not much together except as in a dance, to meet, to merge, to bow, to entwine) in varying relations to each other."

In 1952, Arbus responded to Hill's manuscript of the The Nine Mile Circle in a letter:

"Dear P.

The book is beautiful. It enchants so that when I stop reading it I am drunk with it. It's not circular like so many books (where the end is a prelude to the beginning) it grows as surely as a flower does and its petals get plucked and blown away and in the end I was so sad I thought it must have died. Read it twice with interruptions, and then sometimes just picked up any part. It's very sad, not by anything in the subject of it, but like it's constructed by loss, I mean the losing of its parts, fading, forgetting whereas most books, even the saddest, are resolved and tied up, each thread to each other, so that somebody (author or reader) ends up with a package and takes it home. Really marvelous (the people, times, places, meshings, crossings) and the marvelous sense of an obstreperous omnipotent author and the brilliant floating center of it. (I remember wondering ages ago when you throw it away, garbage, things you lose, forget, etc. and vaguely expecting they'd all turn up in some immense spiritual city dump but it's like you followed a thousand things and found they all go different places and never stop)." © 2003 The Estate of Diane Arbus, Diane Arbus: Revelations, Random House, 2003, p. 136 (used with permission)

In 1966, Pati Hill was living between Stonington, CT and France (during the summer) with her husband and young daughter. Arbus and Hill communicated frequently by telephone at the time, and these conversations would often include lengthy discussions about individual images that Arbus had taken, including a particular one which transpired one afternoon in which Arbus described Child with a Toy Hand Grenade. The same year, the exhibition New Documents opened at The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Hill traveled to New York City to see this show, and can recall distinctly to this day the installation of Arbus's photographs.

During that period of time, Arbus made prints as gifts for some of her friends, and in fact had intended to make a series for Hill. While Hill simultaneously liked Identical Twins, Roselle, N.J., an image which she knew was receiving a lot of attention and success at the time, Hill first chose to have a print of Child with a Toy Hand Grenade, N.Y.C. as the boy reminded her (in both looks and character) of her first boyfriend. She chose this image in person with Arbus in New York, who later mailed the print to her in Stonington, CT. The print has since remained in Hill's possession and her close friendship with Arbus remained intact until Arbus's death in 1971.

In 1973, at the request of Doon Arbus, Pati Hill translated, with Alain de la Falaise, the text of Diane Arbus for the French publisher Éditions du Chêne.

Pati Hill is currently working on a group of life sized etchings and electro works based on the Château de Versailles and its visitors that will open at the Musée Lambinet in Versailles in the spring of 2005.

Vintage prints made by Diane Arbus of Child with a Toy Hand Grenade, Central Park, N.Y.C., 1962 are exceedingly rare, and an exhaustive survey has confirmed the locations of only six other extant examples. These are in The Museum of Modern Art, New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and four private American collections.

This is the only print of this image to have been signed by Arbus on the recto.

Fig. © Stephen Frank. Diane Arbus lecturing to Harry Callahan's photography students at the Rhode Island School of Design in the Spring of 1970.

title

Child with a Toy Hand Grenade, Central Park, N.Y.C., 1962

medium

Signed, dated and dedicated "For P and P..." in ink (in the margin); signed, titled and dated in pencil (on the verso)

prelot

PROPERTY OF PATRICIA HILL-BIANCHINI

signed

Signed, dated and dedicated "For P and P..." in ink (in the margin); signed, titled and dated in pencil (on the verso)

creator

DIANE ARBUS

dimensions

11 7/8 x 11 5/8in. (30.2 x 29.5cm.)

literature

Diane Arbus Revelations, Random House, 2003, p. 136; and Diane Arbus, Aperture, 1972, unpaginated


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