Vivian Maier at The Fotografiska New York: Chronicles of Everyday Life

Vivian Maier | Fotografiska
Vivian Maier, Self-Portrait, New York (1954). Source: Fotografiska

Vivian Maier: Unseen Work at The Fotografiska New York exhibits over 200 of Vivian Maier’s works, showcasing both her famous black and white street scenes and her lesser-known color photographs. Maier captures fleeting moments of human connection, often focusing on the small details that people usually overlook in their everyday lives.

The exhibition delves into the comprehensive body of Maier’s photography and films, spanning from the 1950s to the 1980s. It showcases vintage and modern prints, color and black-and-white photographs, as well as Super 8 films with soundtracks. The collection provides a thorough insight into her intricate and multifaceted archive, offering a captivating portrayal of post-war America.

Vivian Maier: Unseen Work is a tribute to Vivian Maier’s exceptional skill and unwavering commitment to her art. Demonstrated through vivid, dynamic works, Maier’s versatility and eagerness to experiment with various methods and materials depict the shifting urban scene. Her experience serves as a potent reminder of the countless unsung heroes whose achievements are often overlooked due to social and personal factors.

Maier’s story is similar to a modern-day treasure hunt. She was born in New York City in 1926 and worked as a nanny in Chicago most of her life. But in her free time, Maier would take her camera out and stroll the streets while observing the world through a perceptive and sympathetic lens.

Even though Maier accumulated more than 150,000 photos, she never went after public fame or organized exhibits while she was alive. It was only by a coincidence that her amazing work was uncovered in 2007 when her images were put up for sale from a rent-overdue storage container.

Maier’s ability to blend in with her surroundings and get natural, unposed shots of her subjects is one of her photographic signatures. Her Rolleiflex camera, which she carried at waist level and used to shoot from the hip while keeping eye contact with her subjects, helped her become invisible in part. These methods produced genuine, impromptu, and candid photos. In addition to showcasing Maier’s technical skills, the exhibition highlights the variety of subjects she investigated in her work, such as identity, time, and loneliness.

A fascinating side note: Maier frequently turned the camera on herself, catching her reflection in windows and mirrors to create a visual dialogue between herself and her surroundings. Her self-portraits capture her own reflections and her quest for self-awareness.

Vivian Maier: Unseen Work is on view through September 29, 2024.


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