Posts Tagged ‘Vivian Maier’

Finding Vivian Maier

Saturday, March 29th, 2014

Finding Vivian Maier, her story, and her posthumous public profile.

Vivian Maier_Memorializing the images of her subjectsFor those familiar with this blog, my affection for the late street photographer Vivian Maier goes deep. She was a woman who had every reason in the world to shout from the rooftops that she’d arrived, but she opted to pursue perfection and technical excellence over fame and fortune. I think one of the reasons her story resonates with people today is that Maier represents a level of dedication and personal character we don’t often see in today’s run-of-the-mill fame whores.

Classic Vivian Maier ImageA Vivian Maier selfie, for example, is an the image I can lose myself in (though I suspect she would have hated the word). Scratch that for just about everyone else on earth.

Since I first discovered early stories of Maier in April of 2011, I’ve watched and commented on the growing awareness of her legend. I’ve even goofed on the emergence of the Vivian Maier “crowd.” (I proudly include myself.)

Now, I’m pleased to report that tonight I’ll be rubbing elbows with a subset of Maier fans once again, at a screening and filmmaker Q&A of Finding Vivian Maier. If anything ridiculous jumps off I’ll update this entry, but it’s doubtful that’ll happen. Documentary types are way more tolerable and less make-believe than dopey gallery crowds anyhow. (more…)

Over Her Dead Body

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

No way was photographer Vivian Maier gonna go out on top.

All images © Vivian Maier/Maloof Collection
All Images © Vivian Maier:Maloof Collection_Thank you from Where Excuses Go to Die

For those unfamiliar with the Vivian Maier story, it’s a simple one that never changes. Vivian was a professional nanny who, in her off time, wandered around bad neighborhoods and metropolises snapping pictures of just about everyone from derelicts to fashionable women, cops, and lots of kids. Before she died in a Chicago nursing home in 2009, Maier had amassed over 120,000 images of strangers in streets, slums, and shadows. An extremely secretive woman, she never shared her activities, travels abroad, or any of her photos. With anyone. Not in fifty years of practicing street photography.

All Images © Vivian Maier:Maloof Collection_Thank you from Where Excuses Go to Die8At the time of her passing, Maier was in possession of none of her work – not a single negative. This is to say, reel after reel of 8 and 16 mm film; personal writings and cassette tapes containing her voice recordings; personal observations on you-name-it; and seven hundred rolls of undeveloped color film. In 2007, it all had been forfeited to a storage company due to unpaid fees, for Vivian had begun this century almost destitute. She was powerless to stop the contents of the unit from being sold to a Chicago auction firm.

To those who knew her, or thought they did (namely, the grown children she’d cared for), she was a recluse, a hoarder, and a peculiar spirit. But to the many who now consider her one of the most prolific and talented street photographers in the history of the medium, she is an ambiguous monolith of isolation, genius, and resolve.  (more…)

Overheard at the Art Gallery:

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

“Los Angeles beckons teenagers to come to her on buses,” sings the band Soul Coughing in a song called “Screenwriter’s Blues.” Besides being literally true, the same lack of imagination applies to anyone who looks for the reactions of others before rendering an opinion: the copycats and the skittish; the birdbrains and the sheep; the neophytes and the misfits, all of whom seem to be drawn to my otherwise great city. (more…)

Enter the Vivian Maier “Crowd”

Sunday, January 8th, 2012

There was once a woman who worked as a nanny, who wandered the streets in her off hours photographing pedestrians, policemen, and passersby. Thousands upon thousands of pictures she took, tossing countless rolls of undeveloped film into drawers and boxes without an apparent need for approval or accolade. Tonight in Los Angeles, Vivian Maier’s legacy of fascinating self-direction and independence will be given the art gallery treatment with a reception at Merry Karnowsky Gallery on La Brea Avenue.

From what we know of Maier, courtesy of John Maloof, discoverer of all of those lonely rolls of film and the imagined stories behind them, she did not seek fame or fortune. She wasn’t competitive nor driven by a need for attention or even very much company. For such a rare and precious discovery, I’m both excited and afraid for my expectations of whom her work will attract. Will the “look-at-me” L.A. crowd be up for her self-contained legacy? Stay tuned.

UPDATE: The Vivian Maier Phenomenon Continues…

Friday, December 16th, 2011

Still humbled by John Maloof’s incredible discovery.

So much happening, so little to go on. The absence of color allows the viewer’s imagination to go wild.

Inspired by: Vivian Maier and vivianmaier.com

Swearing off all usage of the phrase “shock and awe” almost as soon as I heard it helped me deny its imprint, so now it can land where it wants, such as with street photographer Vivian Maier’s recently discovered body of work. I am in shock that Maier could hide the outcome of a life’s passion from the world so effectively, and I’m in awe of the work itself. I’m also in shock that someone unknowingly found thousands of Maier’s photos and undeveloped rolls of film, and I’m in awe of that person’s willingness to rise to the occasion and share them.

(more…)

In Admiration of Vivian Maier, 1926-2009

Friday, May 6th, 2011

Humbled by a feminist pot of gold at the end of a corner rainbow.


Inspired by: vivianmaier.com

Vivian Maier’s photography was discovered in 2007 when 29-year-old John Maloof attended an antique auction and paid $400 for box of negatives. The box belonged to a woman who had failed to maintain payments on the storage locker that held 20-30,000 of her undeveloped photos. (more…)