Well, we've heard of Vivian Maier

Discussion in 'Photographers' started by Ross Chambers, May 21, 2011.

  1. Ross Chambers

    Ross Chambers Member

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  2. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    Thanks for the info!

    Jeff
     
  3. mono

    mono Subscriber

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    I saw her images here in Hamburg.
    All I can say: great street photography.
    The exhibition is very much worth seeing!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 21, 2011
  4. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    Love her work.
     
  5. CGW

    CGW Restricted Access

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    Old news but thanks anyway.
     
  6. Diapositivo

    Diapositivo Member

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    Some thoughts I have about Maier

    I cannot help noticing that her obituary mentions she was a great photographer, nonetheless a few days after her deaths her relatives were immediately giving away all her work by the kilogram. It makes me think how lonely photographers are in their passion. Most people would not understand taking pictures of anything different than their relatives, dog, girl-friend, and places they were during holidays. Nothing wrong with that, but I think that for most people taking simply pictures of "life around us" must seem weird, the hobby of the nut. No wonder she was not "understood" in life. She probably had no understanding, appreciation and no encouragement from people near her.

    Another thought: some of the pictures of Vivian Maier are, so to speak, "obviously good". Nonetheless she probably had no illusions that a nanny could ever walk into a gallery and propose her work. If she had been friend with some famous photographer or gallerist of the times she could maybe have been famous. The point here is that "obviously good" images maybe are not enough.

    The "great photographers" we know are probably just a random selection among the many equally great unknown photographers around us. The "random" selection is mostly made by life circumstances that end up being more important than the body of work itself.

    Or maybe not. Vivian Maier left behind her a huge body of work. It's likely that the vast majority of those images are not that interesting anyway. The first rule in this case should be: "show only the best". And one has to be able to discern what is better and what is worse. And she wasn't a good printer, it seems. Well, that reminds me of an aunt of mine, which writes absolutely stunning poems in Roman dialects but lacks the "energy" to do all the limae labor, the painful job of perfecting the raw material to make it shine. She finds "instant satisfaction" in the poem as it first appeared, and than just concentrate on the next one. She doesn't even see when a verse is somehow weak, or when there is some style problem. I suppose Vivian Maier was a bit the same: more, more and more pictures, without too much self-critique, without the urge to perfect the art or printing. "Instant satisfaction" without a "direction" so to speak.
    It's perfectly legitimate, it's her choice, but it's also a pity because this way a lot of genius gets wasted in the world.
     
  7. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    I don't believe that the "greats" are a random set, nor that their photographic work is better than many lesser knowns, or even better than what the average APUGer is capable of.

    What the "greats" all do seem to hold in common are simply; the choice to enter, the talent for, and the will to succeed in photography as a business, nothing more.

    For example, Ansel Adams could very easily have ended up as a concert pianist.

    This is not to say they didn't get good at their craft.

    Henri Catier-Bresson could be accused of the same failing, given that he had little or no interest in and hired out all of his printing. A hunter not a cook.

    HCB did though choose to self-promote. He chose to be in business, that's a lot of work.

    I see it as a shame that one must succeed commercially to be considered a great.
     
  8. mono

    mono Subscriber

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    < I see it as a shame that one must succeed commercially to be considered a great. >
    And that´s why I think her work is great!
     
  9. flash26c

    flash26c Member

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    What I think is great about Ms. Maier is that she took the photos for herself and stayed true to her vision; her passion was in the taking of the photos. I seem to lose this vision when I try to do something that someone else would like.
     
  10. bwrules

    bwrules Member

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    Anyone who's done street knows it's a very lonely affair. You can bring other photogs with you, but they will only get in the way. Getting past feeling like a creep who's invading privacy is also a big hump to get over.
     
  11. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    I agree.
     
  12. CGW

    CGW Restricted Access

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    Yet another instance of "outsider" art undetected by mainstream cultural/aesthetic radar.
     
  13. zsas

    zsas Member

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    I dont believe that is the case. Her film/prints were stored in a storage facility. She became ill, didnt pay the storage facility rent, the owner of the stoage facility sold off her belongings due to her not being able to pay the rent. A few people bought her negatives/prints at auction and the rest is history...


    But maybe not, I think we all 'win' here. Vivian didn’t want to be famous. We have no indication that she ever submitted her work to be exhibited while she was living. I think she was pure - shot photos for the love of it. Didn’t even develop many of the negatives since that was: either too much work, not important, too expensive, etc.

    Vivian is an inspiration to all of us!! I love her work, her style, her approach to photography, her in general.

    I saw her posthumous show at the Chicago Cultural Center in January and think about her almost every time I hit the shutter button. I was a sponsor of the documentary about her that is coming out soon and received a MF film spool of hers....I love it...makes me appreciate photography more...the whole physical part of shooting film that all us APUG'ers appreciate
     
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  15. hoffy

    hoffy Member

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    My question, though, is someone now making money out of her?

    I saw a lot of this a few years ago and was inspired. There is true depth in what is on display and she has done her bit to document the world from a different time and not just those who less fortunate then most.
     
  16. Diapositivo

    Diapositivo Member

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    I suppose, and hope for him, that Maloof is making, or is going to make, money out of his discovery and promotional effort. I don't know how would copyright transfer in this case. The pictures are marked Vivian Maier / John Maloof collection. He's actively promoting the collection, one day he might sell it for a good price. The claim that he hopes to recover what he spent is a bit naive. He gave up his job to promote the collection, and that seems to entirely occupy his time. I wouldn't see anything bad if he made money out of this collection which is a bit a creature of his own.

    I don't really believe that Maier didn't want to become famous. I suppose it's more something like didn't hope to, or had no time - energy to strive for that kind of success. Nobody would just turn their back to fortune when it arrives. On the other hand, as Mark says, you have to mean business and actively and skilfully pursue this fortune to attain it, and not everybody make the energy investment, or is in a position to make this energy investment, to have a try.
     
  17. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    I love her stuff. It's too bad that Ms. Maier didn't get the recognition she deserved. I'm sure she probably didn't care. She looks like she just photographed for the pure joy of it from what I could tell. I hope that Mr. Maloof would find museum to care for her collection and publication of her work.
     
  18. jp498

    jp498 Member

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    The commercial aspect of photography is a 20th century thing brought on by a combination of means to easily reproduce with quality photography in a useful way, and by art galleries calling photography an art and establishing a business for it. Prior to that, photography, aside from commercial portraiture, was done by people like Vivian or ourselves or most of the 19th century photography innovators. Now, we're coming full circle and getting away from the need for commercialism as we can all easily take photos and share/make use of them on a forum, facebook, or flickr.

    There are many people that have an excellent gift/skill and choose what they make of it.

    In my photography, a major theme of mine is photos of my family. I do this to the same level of care and craft as something to be exhibited. I consider it worthwhile and important and don't care what the world thinks. I don't seek recognition or fame or financial reward for this. Vivian probably needed a break from the kids as nanny and shot the street. I need a break from the public and work and photograph my family.

    I regard commercial success to be unrelated to the quality of photography, based on interactions with many other photographers who choose to do something other than photography professionally. It is gratifying to sometimes get paid, but I have the confidence and dedication to continue to photograph how I like without needing $ to boost my ego or enthusiasm for photography.

    Maloof, I think makes the right move to stop his job and figure out how to get paid for doing what he is enthusiastic about. Most of us, myself included need to keep the paychecks coming and he seems to be working hard. This work he's creating for himself means he's getting paid for photo history work, which I suspect is rare outside of being a college professor.

    It is a shame that beauty is often lost or nearly lost. What was being sold from her storage was identifiable and interesting and that seems to be a reason it was found. Now, someone's life work in photography could be stored on a 3.5x5x1" hard drive (or two if they backup) in a dusty box of cables and software manuals and would be much more likely to vanish un-noticed. In a few generations, as styles changes, her photos will be less relevant when nobody living remembers the cars and clothes of her time, no less beautiful, but undoubtedly less popular. By the same token, many beautiful minds are veiled by distracting bodies, and many beautiful bodies are veiled by bad clothes, and we consider this less because it is more common.
     
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  19. Tom Stanworth

    Tom Stanworth Member

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    I enjoy her work, but the undiscovered aspect to it should not cloud the picture so to speak. I do not think she is an undiscovered great, personally, but a very good photographer who shot for herself and created some super work. I think the lack of an agenda in her work is its greatest appeal. There is an inherent humility and a 'ordinary' insight into a period of history, but I am not sure whether her photography is strong enough on its own without the personal story that goes with it. Somehow it just does not have the X factor. I can't quite place it... maybe it's just me.
     
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  20. analogaddict

    analogaddict Member

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    Great

    I saw her works and i really liked them and her story too.
     
  21. LCEL

    LCEL Member

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    I went to the exhibition here in Holland and really enjoyed it, she knew how to capture daily life of ordinary people in the street very well.

    Best regards,
    LCEL.
     
  22. dasBlute

    dasBlute Subscriber

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    I just received a copy of the book, "Vivian Maier: Street Photographer", and was unprepared.

    Some of her photos could be seemlessly slipped into a collection of Kertész, or Walker Evans,
    or Eugene Smith [think Pittsburg project]. There is a consistency of vision, a compassion,
    a thoughtful eye, a marvelous sense of timing, a dedication of years.

    One could do far less than she, I bow in respect.

    -Tim
     
  23. marciofs

    marciofs Member

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    I wonder how many interesting "artists" might have existed without becoming know by the History Art.
     
  24. doughowk

    doughowk Subscriber

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    The book is a revelation. Her contemporaries included Arbus, Frank, Firedlander & Levitt; and her images hold up very well in that company. The book itself is well done - a very good tribute to someone who influenced no one but herself in her exploration of the urban environment. We are fortunate that her work has been rescued from the dustbin of history.
     
  25. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    In many ways Maier's story is like that of Eugene Atget. His work was unknown until Bernice Abbott came across some of his prints and bought up all his negatives that she could find. She spent years acting as a curator of his work. Thanfully there are still people who appreciate art in its truest sense.
     
  26. CGW

    CGW Restricted Access

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    Thanfully there are still people who appreciate art in its truest sense.

    "Art" as defined by whom? Would art in a slightly less than true sense still be "art?" I guess art without commerce is just a hobby.

    Maier will always be a mystery. We'll never know how or why she chose to shoot what she did the way she did. I'm sick of the comparisons, too. Can't the work stand on its own?

    On that, this tart little piece is a funny but true riff on the perils of being "derivative."

    http://portable.tv/loves/post/photographers-you-should-ignore/