Diane Arbus

A very young baby, N.Y.C. 1968

About this artwork

Arbus usually wrote descriptive captions for her pictures, rarely including the names of her subjects. Here she photographs ‘a very young baby’. The baby is Anderson Cooper, now a well-known journalist for American news channel CNN, and the son of the socialite, Gloria Vanderbilt and her fourth husband, Wyatt Cooper. The photograph is unsettling; unlike most of Arbus’s portraits in which the camera confronts the subject directly, the baby’s eyes are closed making the portrait oddly distant. And unlike conventional photographs people make of their children – laughing and pink-cheeked – Arbus fills the frame with his sleeping face in an extreme close-up that renders his skin waxy and pale. Eerily, the photograph appears more like a death mask or a nineteenth-century death portrait than a picture of a sleeping child.

  • title:
    A very young baby, N.Y.C. 1968
  • accession number:
    AR00548
  • artist:
  • gallery:
  • object type:
  • materials:
    Gelatin silver print on paper
  • date created:
    1968, printed after 1971
  • measurements:
    36.70 x 37.00 cm (framed: 62.00 x 61.80 x 2.00 cm)
  • credit line:
    ARTIST ROOMS National Galleries of Scotland and Tate. Acquired jointly through The d'Offay Donation with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund 2008
This artwork is part of Artist Rooms

Diane Arbus

Diane Arbus