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Vivian Maier: Street Photographer by Vivian…

Vivian Maier: Street Photographer

by Vivian Maier

Other authors: Geoff Dyer (Contributor), John Maloof (Editor)

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Quinto (¿o sexto?) documental!: Finding Vivian Maier. Muy bueno (y, definitivamente, el menos triste que vi en estos días. No lloré casi nada xD)
  LaMala | Jun 7, 2015 |
The discovery of the work of Vivian Maier took the photographic world rather by surprise, surprise that soon turned to storm. She has variously been claimed by street photographers, validating their art; by historians, who revel in these images from the 1950s and `60s; and feminists, who acclaim her work whilst debating her outward status as a woman in a traditional caring role.

Matters are complicated by the woman herself; a loner who carried out her art almost in seclusion. The photographs could easily have been lost without anyone being any the wiser; their rescue, two years before she died, is little short of a miracle. Sadly, John Maloof, the discoverer and rescuer of her work, was unable to track her down before she died.

Of course, the discovery of a body of work like this has caused controversy. Critics and commentators have fallen over themselves to compare her work with others' (especially Diane Arbus) and find similarities, sparking off debate over whether Maier really did work in seclusion all those years, without contact with or influence from other photographers. It is debatable whether a man could have taken these photographs: many of them are quite intimate, and makes me wonder whether a man trying to take similar pictures might have been interpreted as acting aggressively. Maier's choice of camera, a Rolleiflex twin-lens reflex, might also have helped, looking sufficiently old-fashioned to the average person so as not to constitute a threat.

This book merely scratches the surface of the volume of her work - Maloof now has access to over 100,000 negatives, and he also acquired hundreds of reels of undeveloped film, as well as 8mm movie footage. Some of the photographs are fascinating glimpses into other lives of people who have left even less mark on the world than Maier did; others are fascinating views of scenes long gone; still others are interesting or intriguing exercises in pattern, shape and form. Only a few of the photographs in this book have been widely seen before.

There's another fascinating facet to Maier's photography; just as she seems to have worked in a vacuum, insulated from other professional photographers, so the fact of her recent discovery means that other photographers worked in ignorance of her work. I was struck again and again in looking through this book of the similarity between her work and the city sequences in Godfrey Reggio's acclaimed documentary film 'Koyaanisqatsi', made in the late 1970s. My mind's ear kept inserting the soundtrack from 'Koyaanisqatsi' as I viewed certain street scenes, or Maier's pictures of building sites, building demolitions and street people.

In short: an important book of important photographs by an important photographer. ( )
1 vote RobertDay | Dec 2, 2012 |
Vivian Maier, a nanny and street photographer, was posthumously discovered by John Maloof, a real estate agent. He was looking for information on and photos of the Chicago northwest side neighborhood where he grew up for a book he was writing. Serendipitously, he went to an auction by a storage locker company to cover unpaid rental bills, bid on a box of photographs taken by Ms Maier and struck gold, so to speak. Other boxes of her photos and negatives were purchased by others at the auction and eventually were tracked down and purchased by Maloof. He now has well over 100,000 negatives and prints, much undeveloped roll film and the like.

Without going into much detail, the stories of her discovery and, most of all, the photographs, have become a sensation. Maier was active mostly in the 1950s and 1960s in Chicago and New York City and those cities are the focus of the book of some 120 pages. All the photos in the book are black & white and very urban and many are quite gritty feeling. They quite evoke city life in - primarily - the 1950s.

General information on Vivian Maier here. Includes an interesting time lapse video of the prep and showing of a London exhibition of her work.

Vivian Maier on Blogspot is here.

Two New York Times articles or blogs about her... One... --- Two...

Wikipedia - you know you have made it when a Wikipedia article is devoted to you... has a fairly full bio and more links on Ms Maier.

I'm sure we haven't heard the last of Ms Maier's work. If you search Vivian Maier, John Maloof and street photographer, you will get many, many links to articles, exhibits and the like.

There is very little text in the book, pretty much just the photos speaking for themselves. I'd question the inclusion of a couple of photos, but that seems somewhat inconsequential.

If you like street photography or gritty, urban feeling photos from the 1950s, you will likely enjoy this book.

Another book with additional photos and more detail on her personally is Vivian Maier: Out of the Shadows by Richard Cahan, Michael Williams.

As of April, 2014 a documentary film, 'Finding Vivian Maier,' has hit the art theaters. If you have an interest in either Vivian Maier's photo work or in the very interesting story of her discovery by John Maloof, I'd recommend it highly. Here is the trailer for the film. ( )
2 vote bookblotter | Mar 14, 2012 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Vivian Maierprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dyer, GeoffContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Maloof, JohnEditorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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"A good street photographer must be possessed of many talents: an eye for detail, light, and composition; impeccable timing; a populist or humanitarian outlook; and a tireless ability to constantly shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot and never miss a moment. It is hard enough to find these qualities in trained photographers with the benefit of schooling and mentors and a community of fellow artists and aficionados supporting and rewarding their efforts. It is incredibly rare to find it in someone with no formal training and no network of peers. Yet Vivian Maier is all of these things, a professional nanny, who from the 1950s until the 1990s took over 100,000 photographs worldwide--from France to New York City to Chicago and dozens of other countries--and yet showed the results to no one. The photos are amazing both for the breadth of the work and for the high quality of the humorous, moving, beautiful, and raw images of all facets of city life in America's post-war golden age. It wasn't until local historian John Maloof purchased a box of Maier's negatives from a Chicago auction house and began collecting and championing her marvelous work just a few years ago that any of it saw the light of day. Presented here for the first time in print, 'Vivian Maier: Street Photographer' collects the best of her incredible, unseen body of work."--Publisher description.… (more)

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