Saw "Finding Vivian Maier"

Discussion in 'Photographers' started by omaha, Apr 27, 2014.

  1. omaha

    omaha Member

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    Went to see Finding Vivian Maier last night at Film Streams. Its an ok movie built around two fairly interesting stories. The only problem is the movie had a hard time deciding which one of them to tell.

    The first story is that of Vivian Maier, the eccentric nanny of the Chicago Northside who spent her days walking the city with the children in her care, taking thousands and thousands of often amazing photographs but then hiding them away.

    The second story is that of John Maloof, the Chicago area resident alternately described as a “historian and collector” or a “real estate agent” (he may have even published a book on “making big money prospecting for-sale-by-owner properties”, but I’m not sure that’s the same guy) who stumbled into Maier’s work at a storage auction.

    At best, Maloof (who co-wrote and co-prodced the film) is a guy who was genuinely inspired and intrigued by Maier and has made a mission out of promoting her work. At worst, Maloof is an opportunist who happened to stumble into a large collection of great photographs and is exploiting it for personal gain. Or maybe Maloof is a guy who was working in the hyper-competitive and often soulless field of real estate, and saw his discovery of Maier’s work as his chance to get out and transform himself and his life into something with more meaning.

    The rest is at my blog...
     
  2. karl

    karl Member

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    I think the film was a success. I'm not that interested in Maloof, but I did enjoy watching what we get to see of his voyage of discovery.

    I think most people will go to this movie because they want to learn more about Maier and her images. Which I did. It is interesting to speculate as to what drove her to make these images, but I'm more interested in the images themselves than the person behind them.
     
  3. Alan Klein

    Alan Klein Member

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    An "opportunist" to one person is an "entrepreneur" to another.
     
  4. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    I enjoyed the movie, and I found the Maloof part of the story to be interesting as well.

    It occurs to me that his purpose in putting together an "art" documentary may be at least partly to increase his credibility in the art world.
     
  5. EdSawyer

    EdSawyer Member

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    And also a profiteer and carpetbagger, from another perspective.


     
  6. EdSawyer

    EdSawyer Member

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    He has no credibility in the art world, and never will. Neither does that other carpetbagger profiting on Maier's work. Their only motivation is money. Not unlike what happened to Darger.

     
  7. snapguy

    snapguy Member

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    fan

    I am one large fan of Ms. Meier and have no notion of whether the other guy is a mensch or a poltroon. Many times it takes someone with some zip to get the word out about a retiring artist such as Ms. Meier. Did Ross Russell do bad by Charlie Parker or did he bring him back for more recordings when he was down and out? I don't know. But talent will not always out. Sometimes it needs a boost.
     
  8. Eric Rose

    Eric Rose Subscriber

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    Maloof probably started off thinking he hit a gold mine, but I think over time he has grown to appreciate Maier's work. Show me an art dealer who isn't into it for a buck. There are two things that are certainly true, Maier was a fantastic photographer and she was certainly (imho) bat crap crazy.
     
  9. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    From my understanding there are four MAIN collections

    Mr Maloof has a collection
    Jeffrey Goldstein has a collection
    Ron Slatterly has a collection

    there is also the EBay collection which a friend of mine owns

    I have talked with three of the four and they are all genuine , and coming to their collections from different ways.
     
  10. snapguy

    snapguy Member

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    The Tramp

    Charlie Chaplin said that "genius is dedication to the point of madness" and I consider that Charlie was a genius.
     
  11. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Everything I have read , negatives I have seen, prints I have seen tells me that Vivian was a very dedicated photographer who knew what she needed to record.
    Not crazy , just dedicated in a really good way.


     
  12. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    double post sorry
     
  13. omaha

    omaha Member

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    The film certainly paints a picture of a rather eccentric personality for Maier. Whether she qualifies as "bat s*** crazy" is a matter of interpretation. Personally, I wouldn't go nearly that far. In any case, history is filled with stories of artists with "tail end of the bell curve" personalities. In that sense, she was as one might have expected.

    I do find it interesting how her obsession with photography feathered neatly with her hoarding disorder.
     
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  15. Peter Simpson

    Peter Simpson Member

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    FWIW: I like Maier's work. I wish she had been alive to profit from it. She is not, and there are no heirs.

    I would rather Mr. Maloof et al make some money in the process of making her body of work available to the public, than it remain hidden. Maloof has a fairly large job ahead of him: developing hundreds of rolls, cataloging them and scanning the negatives. Given that the museums and galleries he contacted, declined to accept the task, at least we should be thankful he decided to take the risk.

    Sure, I think we all wish that Vivian Maier had been able to recognize the value (both artistic and financial) of her work. But, frankly, given her personality, that was unlikely. Sad, but true. So, at least we get to see it, and Mr. Maloof may end up getting rich...or not. It's the way of the world, and I don't condemn him for it.
     
  16. adelorenzo

    adelorenzo Subscriber

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    I saw the film last night at a local screening. I have the first book of her work and was familiar with some of the back-story but wasn't quite ready for what was presented in the film. The biggest surprise for me was how unexpectedly sad her story is. She basically lived her last years and died alone and, from the sounds of it, was rather lonely. John Maloof is also an interesting character who adds something to the story, he definitely rubbed my wife the wrong way.
     
  17. canuhead

    canuhead Member

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    I for one would prefer the unprocessed rolls remain as they are, unprocessed. How is anyone to know how she processed her film, if she did the developing herself. Should they even be processed is just as important a question ? Leave them as they are.
     
  18. Richard S. (rich815)

    Richard S. (rich815) Subscriber

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    Really?
     
  19. Light Guru

    Light Guru Member

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    But we do know how she processed her film. SHE DIDNT PROCESS IT.
     
  20. MattKrull

    MattKrull Subscriber

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    "Greedy" "profiteering" "opportunistic"

    Maloof did the work to find and share this artwork. Without his work I would not have one my favourite photobooks. It is a shame Vivian Maier was never able to be recognized and paid for her art, but that doesn't mean that the people working to share her work now don't deserve to be paid for the effort. If he gets filthy stinking rich of the endevour, so what? He took a chance and it paid off. Good for him. I've never understood the distain for earning money that is held by some in the art and music world.

    Seriously Canuhead, you'd rather these images never been seen simply because Vivian Maier's didn't develop them? Must art die with the artist? It isn't like she destroyed these rolls of film, she stored them unprocessed, which suggests she would have processed them eventually given the chance. She never pritned, so we don't know that the prints made are how she would have wanted them. Think of every print and photo book as a collaboration between Maier and Maloof if you like. I like the printing choices made in Street Photographer.

    I'm waiting for Finding Vivian Maier to show up on Netflix Canada.
     
  21. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Actually she did print her work , Ron Slatterly has a very large collection that Vivian over saw produced.

    I too am glad that Maloof has found this great body of work and is bringing it to the public.


     
  22. omaha

    omaha Member

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    Maloof is an interesting guy. In a way, I find it more interesting to get inside of his head than Maier's.

    From the outside looking in, he seems sort of conflicted. His Flickr page is filled with street photos that he started posting after he found the Maier archive. I find it fascinating that he chose to emulate her.

    He's young, so some latitude is called for. He seems to be going through a "find yourself" period. Does he want to be a photographer? Does he want to be a documentarian? Does he want to be a curator? Does he want to be a researcher? Does he want to be an entrepreneur? Does he want to be a real estate guy? I'm not sure he knows, and that gets to the central weakness (in my view) of the film: It never seemed to make up its mind if it was promoting Maier or Maloof. Put another way, the film can be viewed as using Maier as a vehicle to promote Maloof.

    If there's something "ishy" in Maloof, I found it there. But as I said, he's quite young, and as such I give him a lot of slack in such things.
     
  23. canuhead

    canuhead Member

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    Who's to say she was looking for recognition ? We're ascribing something for which we have no clue, afaik. She may have photographed because she was compelled to, maybe obsessively so, but that doesn't mean she wanted the world to see her work and that she wanted to profit from it, I don't know. ymmv

    It would be great if there was a paper trail of correspondence between Vivian and editors/curators/other photographers.
     
  24. cowanw

    cowanw Member

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    Well, she did communicate with a lab with a view to publishing her work at one time, as documented in the movie.
     
  25. canuhead

    canuhead Member

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    hmmm
     
  26. Shawn Dougherty

    Shawn Dougherty Subscriber

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    I saw this film in a theatre in downtown Pittsburgh last Friday. I was pleasantly surprised, both by the film and the work of "Miss Meyers".

    The film is in fact titled "FINDING Vivian Maier", so it is appropriate for it to be as much about finding the work as it is about Vivian herself. Where I felt the film really shined was the way in which it asked more questions than it answered. We can't TRULY know her motivations, intentions or how she would feel about what's happening with her work now. I believe the film left that same ambiguity when it came to the people that were interviewed... I question some of their stories... some of their own motivations and the film presented things in such a way as to question them itself.

    As to Maloof? Interesting fellow, indeed. I'm glad he found her work and helped to bring it to us now... and why shouldn't he profit from the time and work he's put into this significant effort? I look forward to purchasing the DVD and watching it again. I also look forward to seeing more images made by Vivian, she made some fine pictures.
     
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