Vivian Maier.

Sunday mornings are for strong coffee and culture. This morning I watched a film by flea market enthusiast John Maloof about the hunt to find out more about some old camera films he had come across. ‘Finding Vivian Maier‘ was a triumph. If you liked Searching for Sugarman, this is right up your street…no hang on it was born on your street and stole your milk.

Here is some more about the lady shrouded in mystery.

Vivian Dorothea Maier (February 1, 1926 – April 21, 2009) was an American street photographer, who was born in New York City and spent much of her childhood in France. After returning to the United States, Maier worked for about forty years as a nanny, mostly in Chicago. During those years, she took more than 150,000 photographs, primarily of people and architecture of New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, although she travelled and photographed worldwide.

The great thing about Vivian Maier, is that we are seeing these accomplished images, but she never had any of these films developed. For some reason, this introverted, reclusive, talented woman is taking images that document life in 1950s New York, and in some cases in a journalistic way, yet didn’t show them to anyone. There are accounts from people that knew Vivian/ Miss Maier that say she had a sinister side to her personality, hoarding items, particularly newspaper clippings of sinister crimes.

I think the self portraits are particularly interesting and full of personality. Her use of composition in her colour films reminds me of what I would imagine Sylvia Plath’s ‘Superman and Paula Brown’s New Snowsuit’ would be like. Sinister and spectacular.

Here is a short film made by BBC for their Imagine series:


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