The Strange Case Of Vivian Maier

Not a new story but still a spectacular one. How someone who would have been a peer to the likes of Robert Frank, Lee Friedlander, Diane Arbus and Gary Winogrand was able to take over 100,000 pictures in her lifetime and pretty much keep the whole thing a secret is mesmerizing.

Sept 28, 1959, 108th St. East, New York, NY

Sept 28, 1959, 108th St. East, New York, NY
Undated, New York, NY
Undated, New York, NY
From Wikipedia,Vivian Maier

Vivian Dorothea Maier (February 1, 1926 – April 21, 2009) was an American amateur street photographer, who was born in New York City but grew up in France. After returning to the United States, she worked for about forty years as a nanny in Chicago, Illinois. During those years, she took about 100,000 photographs, primarily of people and cityscapes in Chicago, although she traveled and photographed worldwide.

Her photographs remained unknown and mostly undeveloped until they were discovered by a local Chicago historian and collector, John Maloof, in 2007. Following Maier’s death, her work began to receive critical acclaim.[1][2] Her photographs have been exhibited in the US, England, Germany, Denmark, and Norway, and have appeared in newspapers and magazines in the US, England, Germany, Italy, France and other countries. A book of her photography titled Vivian Maier: Street Photographer was published in 2011.

Chicago August 22, 1956

Chicago August 22, 1956

 1957, Chicago, IL

1957, Chicago, IL
 Untitled, April 20, 1956
Untitled, April 20, 1956
 1957, Chicago, IL
1957, Chicago, IL
 Undated, Canada
Undated, Canada
 Untitled, November 4, 1955, San Francisco, CA
Untitled, November 4, 1955, San Francisco, CA
 August, 1958, Churchill, Canada
August, 1958, Churchill, Canada
August, 1958, Churchill, Manitoba, Canada
August, 1958, Churchill, Manitoba, Canada
 1959, Cochin, India
1959, Cochin, India
 August 11, 1959, Digne, France
August 11, 1959, Digne, France
 August, 1958, Churchill, Manitoba, Canada
August, 1958, Churchill, Manitoba, Canada
 1959, Egypt
1959, Egypt
Vivian maier16
July 10, 1959, Aden, Yemen
Vivian maier17
Undated, Canada
 Undated, Canada
Undated, Canada
 Untitled, Undated
Untitled, Undated
 Self Portrait, February 1955
Self Portrait, February 1955
 Self Portrait, 1953
Self Portrait, 1953
 September 10th, 1955, New York City
September 10th, 1955, New York City
Looking through these pictures I feel as though I am looking back at the work of one of the most influential photographers of all time, yet none of these images were seen publicly until after 2007!  The images evoke a great passion and identification with humanity. Did she come from outer space and simply preferred  to let others flow with these visual ideas? It’s quite uncanny how these pictures seem so familiar as we have seen so many similar photographs framed by some very talented photographers who were not doing this kind of work in the early to mid 50’s. But strangest of all, perhaps, is that she chose to share these images with no one.
A riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.

Piecing together Vivian Maier’s life can easily evoke Churchill’s famous quote about the vast land of Tsars and commissars that lay to the east. A person who fit the stereotypical European sensibilities of an independent liberated woman, accent and all, yet born in New York City. Someone who was intensely guarded and private, Vivian could be counted on to feistily preach her own very liberal worldview to anyone who cared to listen, or didn’t. Decidedly unmaterialistic, Vivian would come to amass a group of storage lockers stuffed to the brim with found items, art books, newspaper clippings, home films, as well as political tchotchkes and knick-knacks.”

 

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7 responses to “The Strange Case Of Vivian Maier

  1. I first came across Vivian Maier’s work a few months ago, and immediately found it both interesting and inspiring. her story is truly remarkable. Thanks for bringing it back to my ageing mind.

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