Monday, March 18, 2013

Vivian Maier: Street Photographer by Vivian Maier

My interest in the photographer Vivian Maier continues. A few weeks ago I reviewed Vivian Maier by Richard Cahan and Michael Williams, which tells how the finding of Maier's abandoned prints, negatives, and over 1,000 rolls of undeveloped film in a storage facility in Chicago in 2007 surprised the art world. No one had ever heard of her, but some critics instantly proclaimed her among the best of twentieth century photographers.

Now I have seen Vivian Maier: Street Photographer edited by John Maloof, who purchased one of the auctioned blocks in 2007. In this book, after a very brief introduction by critic Geoff Dyer, he lets the photos speak for themselves. This is a smaller but more focused collection of images than the previously reviewed book. Here each photograph gets a full page. Someone not knowing her story would assume on viewing this collection that Maier was a renowned Life or Look photojournalist of the 1950s and 1960 instead of an unknown nanny who took photos on her day off.

Being a nanny did not make Maier sweet in any way. She strolled rough streets in New York and Chicago documenting drunks, panhandlers, weary commuters, and police against a backdrop of decay and ruin. Though the scenes are sometimes stark and I doubt some of the subjects were aware of Maier's photographing them, Maier is respectful. She was even whimsical in the series of self-portraits, which may be found at the back of the book.

If you reserved the Vivian Maier book by Cahan and Williams, order this one, too.

Maier, Vivian. Vivian Maier: Street Photographer. PowerHouse Books, 2011. 123p. ISBN 9781576875773

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