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Thursday, February 12

New Vivian Maier Resource

A chap over at the Artsy website contacted me having read an old post I'd published about Vivian Maier. Regular readers might remember it was the one where I questioned whether or not Vivian had been promoted too quickly to the top rank of street photographers, possibly based on her interesting back-story rather than on pure photographic talent.

After the Artsy email, I went back and re-read the post. Bloody hell, I must have been feeling brave that day! It was a controversial topic for sure and I took some pelters in the comments for it - and probably justifiably.

I reckon the vast majority of the 32 comments left were totally against my viewpoint but democracy is over-rated anyway so what the hell! I more or less conceded defeat in a follow-up post here.

Surprisingly - or maybe he was just being polite - Anthony from Artsy thought my original one was a "great post", which was nice of him to say. However, his reason for contacting me was so that I could let you all know about a feature page he's set up on their website about Vivian.

Anthony says, "I actually worked on Artsy's new Vivian Maier page, and I think it would be a great resource for your readers.

"The newly designed page includes her bio, 80+ images of her works, exclusive articles about Vivian Maier, as well as her up-to-date exhibitions – it's a unique Maier resource."

I've had a look and it is indeed a unique resource and one I'm happy to commend to you. In case some readers aren't familiar with Vivian's work, here's what the bio on her page says about her, "Vivian Maier was a photography hobbyist whose output would become an influential body of work in the 20th-century street photography.

"Maier was a nanny and caregiver with a hidden passion for photography that resulted in over 100,000 negatives—mostly discovered posthumously. She picked up a camera for the first time in 1947 and worked late into the 1990s capturing her favored subjects: fleeting moments and images from her urban surroundings in Chicago and New York, touching upon destitution, urban development, pedestrian culture, and the American identity. Her later works featured fewer figures and took more interest in found objects, graffiti, and detritus."

If she's somehow never been picked up by your photographic radar then that should whet your appetite somewhat. You can find out all about her and see some of her best pics here. Be warned, though, that you might find the Artsy website a major distraction. There's information about more than 25,000 artists on the website and photographers feature prominently.

Above is the screenshot for Henri Cartier-Bresson's page, for instance. The site is searchable so you might be able to find your favourite on there if he or she is a "name". Mind you, there are scores of photographers on Artsy that I've frankly never heard of but that's probably more to do with my own ignorance than anything else. I've got a lot to learn - and not just about Vivian Maier...


Daniel D. Teoli Jr. said...

"Vivian Maier was a photography hobbyist whose output would become an influential body of work in the 20th-century street photography."

Sounds about right. Maier's work is no big deal. Her 'greatness' is based on the promotion, the back story and the nostalgia aspect of her pix.

Take an old pix and age it and it becomes gold. Sure she had a few nice pix out of the 100,000. But most people would too...100,000!

I even bought one of her books.(Used for a bargain.)

These are a few of my favorite photographers…

Lisette Model, Robert Frank, Mary Ellen Mark, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Michel Chelbin, Les Krims, Maggie Steber, Don McCullin, Salgado, Irving Penn, Diane Arbus, Gail Halaban Cristina Garcia Rodero, Alfred Eisenstaedt, Bruce Davidson, Robert Doisineau, Jane Evelyn Atwood, W. Eugene Smith, Martin Munkasci, Larry Fink, O. Rufus Lovett, Weegee, Robert Capa, Judy Dater, Ray Metzger, Erich Salomon, Harry K. Shigeta, Emmet Gowin, Jill Freeman, James Nanchez, Helen Levitte, Shelby Lee Adams, Brassai, O. Winston Link.

I think it is the dream of every photog that their body of work will be preserved and honored like Maier's work was. That is probably what appeals to them...hope of afterlife.

It is not sour grapes on my part either. I've been a photog for 46 years. My work is in over 91 museums and public collections. Maier is OK, but nothing great...that is the bottom line.

DavidM said...

I'm inclined to see a parallel with Atget. A life of relative obscurity, not quite as obscure as Maier, followed by posthumous fame.

morris1800 said...

I think she was an excellent photographer and have the greatest respect for her humility. Which I think increases my interest in her work as an 'artist'. Than say a photographer who has had privileged access to take images of the rich and famous.