Diane Arbus "Baby" Is Anderson Cooper
|Diane Arbus, Anderson Hays Cooper, New York City, 1968 (negative)|
|Desiderio da Settagnano, Bust of a Young Boy, 1460-64, with Diane Arbus' Anderson Hays Cooper, New York City, 1968 (negative), 1970s (print)|
"It was Diane Arbus's idea to take pictures of me. She wanted to photograph a baby, and she had seen me when I was relatively newly born. She knew my mother [socialite and fashionista Gloria Vanderbilt] and my dad socially, so she asked if she could come and spend time at the house, and she ended up coming for about three weeks, off and on. My mom said that Diane latched onto me when she first arrived and became obsessed with photographing me.… I read one article where someone said the sleeping baby picture resembled a Roman death mask, which has always stuck with me. But I don't find it disturbing—and a lot of her work is disturbing.…
"I grew up with the pictures in the house, but when I was 11 or 12, there was a show of Diane's work in New York, and they used this picture on the invitation. So I went to the show, and then I started to read more about her and get interested in her work. I met her daughter Doon, who actually gave me a copy of the picture, and then I bought another copy at a gallery. I look at auction catalogues and track it now and then when it comes up. I know that Elton John had one, and I think Annie Leibovitz as well. I saw a copy hanging in someone's house once, and I didn't know if I should point it out or not—it was one of those awkward things. I finally told them, and they were blown away that they had no idea. It's also at the Getty, and for a while I was getting a lot of e-mails from people saying, 'Oh, I just saw you at the Getty!' I don't see myself in the picture, but a lot of my friends do. People say that I have the same mouth still."
The photo has gone by several titles: A Very Young Baby, N.Y.C.; The Vanderbilt Baby; and now Anderson Hays Cooper, New York City, which the Getty is using. Cooper was once asked whether it was OK to use his name for the Arbus photo. He said, "Just make it really clear to people that I'm not the kid with the grenade."
Fun fact: The kid with the grenade became an insurance agent in Glendale.
|Diane Arbus, Child with a toy hand grenade in Central Park, N.Y.C., 1962. Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles|