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.
I wonder how many interesting "artists" might have existed without becoming know by the History Art.
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.
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.
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."
There's an article about her in the latest issue of Smithsonian as well.
I am sick of people who always think that there is some secret motive in what people say. When I said "truest sense" I meant that both photographers had little interest in achieving fame. When I compared Maier and Atget I was not commenting on their work only that each was unknown during their lifetime. They both achieved fame only after death by the intercession of a single person.
Originally Posted by CGW
I feel comparisons are an extremely valid and useful tool in placing work into context,
Originally Posted by CGW
especially for someone who's never seen the work. Frankly, it's one of my fundamental
methods of learning, chaining relationships together. It's how I got from Page's
'Since I've been loving you' all the way to Rev Gary Davis' 'Children of Zion',
and Son House's 'Death Letter Blues'.
One could debate the ability of any work to "stand on it's own".
To consciously "not be like anyone else" is to be strongly influenced by
what everyone else has done.
I agree, Vivian is just an exceptional photographer and I hope there are more Vivian Maier: Street Photographer books in the coming years. She will most likely be remembered as a great street photographer among the likes of Walker Evans, Atget, Diane Arbus, Elliott Erwitt, and Henri Cartier-Bresson.
Originally Posted by dasBlute
I guess my opinion differs from most in that I find her work very good but lacking in the vision and uniqueness of the famous names she is sometimes compared to. I feel that her work almost entirely lacks the magic that catapulted these people from being 'very good' to icons. Its lovely work, for sure, but does not progress any further for me. I dont think she will be remembered as an Arbus or HCB, but will stand corrected when and if she is!