The Discovery of Vivian Maier

A Vivian Maier photo. You have to like the two world nature of the image. Curious indeed.  Amazing she never printed the volumes of photos that she took.  Her images are an insight into an era.

Well, thank you John Bennett our photo teacher here at George Fox, not for taking another picture of me, but for introducing me to Vivian Maier’s work last night over Thai food.  I’ve always been a big fan of Helen Levitt, and seeing Vivian’s work reminds me of the intimacy and sensitivity of Helen’s portrayal of the public.  They are amazingly sensitive and profoundly human.  And her story is very interesting, reminding me of the folk artist Henry Darger.

An image like this seems to be something only a woman could take, let alone one who works with children. The fact that she was working with a camera that is lower than eye level as well adds to the photo’s effectiveness  because you are at eye level with the child, feeling his sadness along with him.

Here is the blog about her work: and here is her website:  I found it a bit addictive. Her compositions are wonderful, the contrast engaging, but more over the humanity of her subject matter keeps making me coming back.  It’s a wonder that none of it was ever in print till someone bought the negatives at an auction after they had been sold out of a delinquent mini storage unit.  Here’s a link to a newscast about her work:

Ah point of view. You have to wonder, what was she doing up on the roof? Or is it a bridge? The gentleman is in a perfect contropposto stance, and likely had no idea his photo was being taken.

Vivian worked as a nanny and house cleaner, but also traveled outside of her home of Chicago, to New York and abroad in the 50’s and 60’s. You’ve got to love the depth in this image and that sky. Wow.

One of her many really wonderful self portraits. I wonder if she waited for just the right moment, or asked the worker to adjust the mirror.

There is such a wonderful sense of composition with this, but also a beautiful casual intimacy.  I could post another 10 photos here easily.  Let’s just say I’m a fan, I’ll stop here, for now…

About abiggerworldyet

Visual Artist Brother Sojourner College Professor Christ follower
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2 Responses to The Discovery of Vivian Maier

  1. Kathy says:

    Love these black and whites….an urban Ansel Adams??

  2. lomagirl says:

    I heard about her a couple of years ago- fascinating.

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