n°1/ Famous Twins - A visual challenge

January 2012

By Nathalie Azoulai



In 1967, Diane Arbus took a photograph of two identical twins, both with the same haircut and dressed in similar clothes. Playing with the subtle contrast between identity and difference, the photograph makes the twins appear almost terrifying, an effect that would have been entirely different if they had been photographed separately. In 1980, Stanley Kubrick adapted Stephen King’s novel, The Shining. While present in the original book, Kubrick’s murdered Grady twins are clearly inspired by those of Arbus: deceptively calm, strange and evil.

The visual challenge of depicting twins – these fascinating and exclusive couples – has inspired other artists, notably in painting and cinema, to create works that touch on the fantastic, even horrific.

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