Vivian Maier’s poignant visual narrative continues to captivate public attention as one of the most important photographers of the 20th Century, despite being virtually unknown to the public during her lifetime. Maier’s allure endures even though many details of her life continue to remain a mystery, leaving only her photographs to tell us much about who she was.
Discovered and acquired by John Maloof in 2007 at a local Chicago auction house, the vast collection of Maier’s negatives, film, and prints capture urban and domestic spheres, as well as more intimate moments through self-portraiture. As an unsuspecting nanny with a sharp wit and observant eye, her work reflects a curiosity and keenness to interpret the world around her, and an unrelenting dedication to document everyday life.
Capturing bystanders, city slickers, and the singular identities of people and places commonly overlooked, Vivian Maier uncovered a profound beauty below the surface of society's clean facade. As renowned photographer Joel Meyerowitz put it, Maier was “a quick study of human nature, of the unfolding moment, the flash of a gesture, or the mood of a facial expression – brief events that turned the quotidian life of the street into a revelation for her.”
Striving to disentangle the turbulent political and social order of the time, Maier also recognized class and gender structures through visual commentary on the role of women, and the disenfranchised. Themes of disparity and social connection reflected the complex notions of the modern world, while the artist’s expansive ouevre, revealed exquisite perception on the delicacy of humanity. Of her color work, Meyerowitz has written “there is a fierce intelligence weaving its way throughout the color work…Maier was an early poet of color photography.”
The exhibition “Living Color” coincides with the first monograph of color photographs by Vivian Maier recently entitled The Color Work published by Harper Collins, with essays by photographer Joel Meyerowitz and art curator Colin Westerbeck. The opening reception on Saturday, December 1st will be hosted by Tim Roth, with John Maloof, of the Maloof collection, also in attendance.
Finding Vivian Maier, the critically acclaimed 2014 documentary film directed by John Maloof and Charlie Siskel garnered an Academy Award nomination for best documentary. Additional monographs of Maier’s work include Vivian Maier: Street Photographer, published in 2011, and Vivian Maier: Self Portraits, published in 2014, both by Powerhouse Books.