Now in color...
November 14, 2018 2:45 PM   Subscribe

Vivian Maier, known mostly for her black & white photography, also did color...
posted by jim in austin (14 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
Purple hat, all in my brain! That photo is so much the auteur in a house of mirrors. The photographer has the artistic view, and skill to capture the subject while leaving her in place, in the universe. The subject has gone to expressive efforts to capture so many nuances in a single look. The lipstick, the mink stole, the hat of roses, she is show stoppingly complete. The gentleman with balloons that match the background, amazing color subtlety! The mood of the woman in the red dress, in front of the show poster, elegant, waiting, well defended, breathtaking! Thanks for these.
posted by Oyéah at 4:25 PM on November 14, 2018 [3 favorites]

Her color photos seem just as terrific as her black & white work, so loose and natural. Here are a few more shots not in the linked article, and some others. I'm excited to see more of it. And so much of her great work (both color and black & white) predates the vernacular photography of the '60s & '70s that finally got some art-world acceptance, by Eggleston, Winogrand, Levitt, Shore, Sternfeld, etc., although she fits right into that group. It's tragic that she didn't get recognition in her lifetime.
posted by lisa g at 4:46 PM on November 14, 2018 [2 favorites]

I swear every time Vivian Maier comes up, I feel like people are having me on. I've seen a few articles now with her photos and... they're just photos. I don't see anything about them that looks in any way remarkable. I feel like I'm trying to see the sailboat in the magic eye poster.
posted by haileris23 at 6:26 PM on November 14, 2018

She had a documentarian’s curiosity with a decent compositional eye, and wasn’t shy about taking pictures. With her huge catalogue in result, there are a lot of good and many great shots, of often just mundane subjects.

The handling of her estate still makes me furious but at least her photos are being seen, unlike many others with similar merit.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:45 PM on November 14, 2018 [2 favorites]

I don't see anything about them that looks in any way remarkable.

She captured life, as it was happening around her. Some lives are mundane, but do they have to be exotic to have merit? Individually, the photos capture places & people no one else was bothering about seriously, and while a single document of a place and time may be mundane by itself, as a body of work, it really represents & catalogs the world as she saw it. Some individual shots are pretty striking, but it’s the corpus that really spectacular. Who the hell else took 100,000 pictures of everyday life during the 50’s & 60’s? Pretty much no one. I mean, you could gather up 100,000 photos of varying tastes & quality taken by 10,000 different people maybe, but it would not be a cohesive body of work like this. The sheer magnitude of the collection is damn impressive.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:28 PM on November 14, 2018 [2 favorites]

Also, I think it's easy to brush off her photographs in the era of cameras in cell phones being good enough to take some pretty fantastic photos, and the related ubiquity of photographs of everything (and the ability to shoot with abandon, hoping that one of your shots captures something magical, without the cost of developing all the mediocre photos to find those rare gems).

That said, it doesn't have to be for everyone. Personally, I'm a huge fan, and the color shots are no different. She captures emotions, or quirky perspectives, and frames up scenes so well.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:10 PM on November 14, 2018 [2 favorites]

I have complicated and contradictory views of MAier, I think that how she has been sold is problematic, and I find the post mortem prints morally compromising. I also think that she is not as good as some of her companions, if we view her as a formal photographer (esp. Helen Levitt) and she is resting on this narrative of the lost genius. I also think that this idea of black and white photography as more authentic is deeply old, and I was hoping it would have died with Eggleston. That said, she might have been an excellent vernacular film maker. There is a show right now at the Hamilton Art Gallery, the colour photos are much better than the black and white photos, but the small films she made, esp. of parades, have a punctum that the other prints did not match. That said, artist intent matters, and I have not seen, for example her work prints.
posted by PinkMoose at 9:12 PM on November 14, 2018 [2 favorites]

I love Vivian Maier's photographs. Thank you.

(There are some people here who are saying that there are photographers better than Maier at what she does - any recommendations for me? I also love Walker Evans' photographs, if that's a useful reference point.)
posted by tallmiddleagedgeek at 6:14 AM on November 15, 2018


Helen Levitt, seriously.

Martin Parr, William Gedney, Christenberry, LaToya Ruby Frazer, Alec Soth, Luigi Ghirri, Arbus, Goldin, Donna Gottshalk
posted by PinkMoose at 7:39 AM on November 15, 2018 [3 favorites]

If we're talking New York street photography, the big three are : Garry Winogrand, Lee Friedlander and Joel Meyerowitz.

Just generally in candid street photography: Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Frank and Eugène Atget are essential. Oh and Weegee and Teenie Harris for more news oriented work.
posted by octothorpe at 8:55 AM on November 15, 2018 [2 favorites]

PinkMoose and octothorpe: some of these I have heard of, others I have not. Enjoyable investigations await me. Thanks!
posted by tallmiddleagedgeek at 8:58 AM on November 15, 2018

For what it's worth, photographers in the Magnum collective generally focus on war / documentary / reportage and as a side effect their work overlaps a lot with the candid / street realms. So if you run out of imagery from the above suggestions, look there as well. (Magnum is problematic in some ways, but that doesn't distract from the quality of the work the photographers do.)
posted by seanmpuckett at 11:06 AM on November 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

PinkMoose, it's neat that you know of LaToya Ruby Frazer. She's a local hero here in Pittsburgh and studied with some of the same teachers that I have. She had an amazing show at the August Wilson center last year.
posted by octothorpe at 11:12 AM on November 15, 2018

She had a show at the AGO a couple of years ago, a solid solid photog
posted by PinkMoose at 2:22 PM on November 15, 2018

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