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  1. #61
    Patrick Robert James's Avatar
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    I like VM's images, but I can't say that I like the modern prints. Intention is a great part of art. How do we know how she would have printed her work? The video shows the glaring disparity between how she printed herself and how the prints are made now. The prints now are huge compared to what she did in her life. The scenes where her prints are strewn out over a table gives a good perspective on this. Frankly, I don't consider the prints that are made now to be genuine. Another problem with all of this is the people who have control over it are trying to capitalize on all of the hype, which they are promulgating themselves. $2000 for an unsigned VM image is a little ridiculous to me. You would be lucky to get that much from a Weston. AA's studio prints are far more genuine, but don't cost nearly as much. Hype, hype, hype.

    I really wish a museum had found these images to do right by her. It is a shame that the sharks surrounded it and went into a feeding frenzy. By all accounts of how she was in life, I doubt she would appreciate what is going on now, nor would she have wanted it.

    I find all of this rather amusing, and sad.

  2. #62

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pioneer View Post
    I agree that we are not attempting to "slam" anyone's work. Not mine, yours, Maier's, or anyone elses. That much we can agree on.

    However, I am still confused about this holistic rubric that we are supposed to be applying to Vivian Maier or HCB (or Weston, Adams, et al.) I will be the first to admit that I am not an expert on what "art" really is but I do know that there are those out there who consider Steve Ditko's work on Spyderman to be great "art." What standard of performance has been used in that case is probably up for discussion as well. But, if you consider art to be, the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, then in my opinion, Vivian Maier's work certainly qualifies IMHO.

    Now, where she stands in relation to other photographic artists is a completely different question, but that seems to be where this thread has been going. It has been stated that she is not in the same category as Henri Bresson, and because of that she does not qualify as "great." That, IMHO, moves our discussion away from any "artistic rubric" and turns it into a popularity contest instead. I do believe that much of her work was considerably above the norm, so I consider her to be a great artist. Now, is she as great, or greater, than some of the other artists whose names have been mentioned? I do not know.

    To go any further I guess we need to know what standard of performance needs to be met to reach greatness?

    I am not an art critic. I took some photography fine art classes in high school and college mostly because they were required. But I ended up really liking photography. So don't view what I am saying as coming from someone who has studied most of the universe of fine art photography and is qualified to pontificate about it.

    I just have faith in the equipment and slightly above average amateur photographers. I think based on what little of Maier's work I've seen that any slightly above average amateur who held the camera straight, focused, and produced over 100,000 negatives would have a similar level of success or not too far below. The question I have to ask is do people think that statement is wrong? I am separating the pictures from the artist. In my opinion are the images nice? Yes. Do I think the artist is head an shoulders above her peers? No. To me for this type of photography which is in no way experimental or avante garde you have to be a cut above to be extraordinary.

    Seriously look at her images. In the majority of them she points the camera right at the subject. She places the subject in the center of the frame and she snaps. She seems to use available light exclusively. For most of the images nothing experimental happens with composition or lighting. Not that there is anything wrong with that. Frankly I advocate much of her approach to picture taking for amateurs. Get a good camera (ie Rollei not Lubitel). Get good film (ie fresh B&W not expired third rate E-6). Hold the camera steady and straight (ie give 2 seconds of thought to what you are doing). Take this meat and potatoes approach to photography and I guarantee you 50 years later when you see your negatives and prints you will have no regrets. But make no mistake that is a very safe and conservative way to shoot. You will get a bunch of competent technically good pictures. I got lambasted in another thread for strongly advocating for this approach initially for amateurs. And here we see what I was talking about in all it's glory. It's competent. It's nice. It's timeless. But given the denominator, 100,000+ negatives, I can't at this time sign off and say the practitioner was head and shoulders above less prolific snappers that took more chances. Maybe when the totality of her work is developed and printed or at least scanned and we can look at it in its entirety I will feel more comfortable putting her in the Parthenon. At this time I've seen <0.1% of her work. And what I've seen is not going off in all sorts of unexpected experimental directions.

    This is just my opinion. I hope I didn't hurt anyone's feelings. Your opinions are valid too.

  3. #63

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    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick Robert James View Post
    I like VM's images, but I can't say that I like the modern prints. Intention is a great part of art. How do we know how she would have printed her work?
    Well considering 100,000+ of her negatives were not even developed it is not at all clear to me that she gave much thought to how they were printed. If you want them the way Maier liked them then leave them undeveloped in a public storage facility.

    Seriously though I think you are looking at her work through your lens not hers. I am no expert on her but it doesn't seem to me like she would be too bothered by what size the images are printed at. She would probably be bewildered that anyone even cares about her work.

  4. #64
    Toffle's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=Patrick Robert James;1515371 $2000 for an unsigned VM image is a little ridiculous to me. You would be lucky to get that much from a Weston. AA's studio prints are far more genuine, but don't cost nearly as much. Hype, hype, hype.

    I really wish a museum had found these images to do right by her. It is a shame that the sharks surrounded it and went into a feeding frenzy. By all accounts of how she was in life, I doubt she would appreciate what is going on now, nor would she have wanted it.

    I find all of this rather amusing, and sad.[/QUOTE]

    Agreed, and not nit-picking but your figures are a bit off. According to Edward-Weston.com,
    "The prices of these Edward Weston photographs printed by Cole Weston currently range from $3000. to $15,000 based on the image and the availability. Edward's most popular images, such as Pepper 1930, Shell, 1927 and Nude, 1936 range from $9000. to $18,000. There are many other wonderful images still available in the $3000 to $4000 range."

    Hackel Bury Lists Ronis' prints from $5500 to $6900. (and if I had that amount in disposable income, I might buy one)

    But I agree, the hype surrounding Maier is almost unparalleled considering she was unknown five years ago. The fullness of time will decide if $2000 is an appropriate value for a Maier print. More than the hype, though, I bemoan Maloof's irresponsible hawking of her negatives on ebay. Of course, for those who see her as an artless hack, this is no great loss. Others may disagree.
    Tom, on Point Pelee, Canada

    Ansel Adams had the Zone System... I'm working on the points system. First I points it here, and then I points it there...

    http://tom-overton-images.weebly.com


  5. #65
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    I am with Patrick on this one. I had a chance to view an hour long segment of it on youtube(the very end was missing) as I can't view it through the bbc player. Everyone associated with her negatives after their discovery are just trying to capitalize on it and push up the hype. I had a chance to view the large prints at the a ny gallery last year, but after seeing her actual prints and print sizes in the video I am a bit put off. $2000 for an unsigned piece, selected and printed by someone she didn't know at all, double that for an original, many of which she had her lab print for her (looked like 5x7 max).

    In the part of the documentary where they explained about her fall an where she hit her head, they were busy dividing up her storage lockers when she was still in the hospital no? Because she couldn't make the payments while she was there? If thats so, I am truly disgusted.

    It's also interesting to note that she at one time was a nanny in a Chicago household where the wife of the family was a big photo editor for a newspaper. The daughter said maier knew full well about that and never asked to have her images looked at. She rarely even showed images to the children she would take pictures of that she worked for.

    And it kinda sucks that all the images are separated, and how the separate owners won't cooperate. (there was one part where one of the guys turned down the bbc interview because he was also in the process of making his own documentary). Any book that will be published will have gaps in it as there is no complete catalog of her images, or any of her notes(which were all tossed out instantly by the first storage guy). I think this collection would have been best in the hands of a local museum, or somewhere she designated in a will of some sorts and not by those money grubbers.


    Also here is a youtube link for whoever cant watch the bbc player because they are in another country.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_ZKYhtSHmg
    Last edited by Newt_on_Swings; 06-27-2013 at 07:56 PM. Click to view previous post history.

  6. #66
    Patrick Robert James's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noble View Post
    Well considering 100,000+ of her negatives were not even developed it is not at all clear to me that she gave much thought to how they were printed. If you want them the way Maier liked them then leave them undeveloped in a public storage facility.

    Seriously though I think you are looking at her work through your lens not hers. I am no expert on her but it doesn't seem to me like she would be too bothered by what size the images are printed at. She would probably be bewildered that anyone even cares about her work.
    My lens? Not quite. What about her wishes? Maybe she didn't want the work to be seen. She never tried to show it herself by all accounts, even when, as Newt touched upon above, she lived with a photo editor. She had four/five decades give or take to do something with it all which she could have done, but she did nothing. Why? That shows intent in my book. I maintain that they belong in museums and should not be commodified. Legally, since she apparently has no heirs, the images are up for grabs. Prints can be made from them, but that doesn't make it right. I thought the same thing with the "Uncle Earl" AA images. Like I said before, the feeding frenzy has commenced. It is sad. If I had the money to buy one of her images, I would be looking at the ones that she did or had done during her life. Those are the only legitimate ones IMO. Those have true value and I think are worth far more money, although I am sad to see she didn't get any of it, since they are genuine. I don't blame the galleries in this very much, it is the people who have the negatives and see dollar signs that are the problem. Maloof is probably the worst of them IMO, although the one they interviewed in the doc apparently (IIRC) gave up everything else he was doing to concentrate on monetizing the work. Ask Maloof when the last time it was that he sold any real estate. Personally, I think VM would be deeply upset about all of it. She would be concerned about the violation of her privacy, akin to someone reading your diary after you are dead.

  7. #67
    Patrick Robert James's Avatar
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    From a comment Newt posted above, there really is nothing stopping a catalog of the work, since VM is dead. There is no true copyright owner. If someone wanted to put together a catalog, not much would stop them. It would be an interesting twisted legal argument for one of the negative holders to try to claim any type of copyright. As we have seen from the Richard Prince episodes it wouldn't stand a chance. The fact that she had no heirs is a great thing for us since the images are generally open. The negative is not the intellectual property, the image is. Neat huh? This is the part of copyright law that lets people make a book of the FSA images of AA for example, or publish old movies on the internet.

  8. #68

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    Not all of the current owners of Vivian Maier work are making prints from her negatives.

    Just Maloof and Goldstein are making prints from Vivian Maier negatives.
    (and signing their names to the backs of them)

  9. #69

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    Just watched a long slide show of her photos on YouTube. Didn't want to comment before seeing more. Not really sure what to think. Very simple, basic composition, looking better because of square format which in my opinion is always easier. Given the number of frames she shot, you're bound to get some winners.
    I think that most street photography from that period and from that area will nowadays look interesting and even special, but in her day it was, what phone photography is today.
    Commercial success will depend on what New York art "elite" will decide. It's those people who decide if an artist becomes famous/collectible. A lot of people have made millions on Rothko and such, making them famous for their own gain. Probably the same will happen with VM, poor women who has no say in anything.
    Whether she wanted or not, whether she deserves it or not, she is now famous.

    cheers, Wojtek.

  10. #70
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    Sorry, but people who think her photos are just simple snapshots of her times of mere amateur level need to look again. They must be out of their aesthic sense or have never tried street photography with a TLR. Experimental photography and original compositions are way over rated to my mind, but anyway I find all her photos extremely well composed and very inspired. Stating that anyone who would take 100,000+ shots would end up with the same results is just like saying any DSLR owner would gather the same body of work that we see from her in a couple of years. How about adding up all the shots taken by HCB in his life time and stating that anyone who could focus and frame properly would end up with as much winners out of the same number of shots. By the way I guess HBC has out numbered VM's frame count by far. Does it make him a lesser photographer?



 

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