I saw this ad in the Eurostar magazine, and was intrigued by the picture. The boy has a funnily weird expression on his face, and I wondered what on earth was going on with the crooked hand. I decided to do a bit of research.
Not surprisingly it turns out that this is an iconic photograph, by American photographer Diane Arbus who famously did not want to be seen as a photographer of “freaks” (she tended to capture the more interesting people in society: circus performers, transvestites, dwarfs and giants.)
This subject is a guy called Colin Wood, son of golfer Sidney Wood. He’s now an insurance salesman and father of two.
Colin was simply a boy playing in the park when Arbus came upon him. He has said “That grenade was one of two I bought at the five and ten,” Wood told freelance writer Hugh Hart. The second one went out the window when I tried to blow up the alley behind our apartment…” (from the Washington Post.)
Arbus seemingly didn’t direct him, and most of the shots were of a normal boy prancing around trying to be funny, but by this shot he was getting impatient and I think that’s where this really unusual expression and stance comes from. Frustration perhaps?
Anyway – it’s striking – it’s not a picture that you forget in a hurry. The toy hand grenade of course adds to the slightly unsettling feeling it gives you. I love it and I’ll be doing a lot more research on Diane Arbus. And I’ll certainly be going to the exhibition. Details below.
Jeu de Paume
18th October 2011 – 5th February 2012
1 Place de la Concorde
More details and buy tickets: http://www.jeudepaume.org/index.php?page=article&sousmenu=11&idArt=1470&lieu=1