Vivian Maier: The Invisible


I stumbled across an interesting documentary the other day, Finding Vivian Maier. Or at least I saw the advertisement for it in the paper. It must have played in our town for about 5 minutes, because by the time I went see it, it was gone.

Maybe that’s the way it should be. Prolong the mystery for as long as you can, and certainly Vivian Maier’s photographs evokes mystery. It seems appropriate that she should be appreciated as a photographer before one pulls back the veil of her personal life.

When I read the official description of the documentary I thought, “Oh, please.The lengths they’ll go to to sell a movie.”

 “…the life story of the late Vivian Maier, a career nanny whose previously unknown cache of 100,000 photographs has earned her a posthumous reputation as one of America’s most accomplished and insightful street photographers.”

But I was wrong.

Her photographs are amazing.The intimacy, the places, the people, the faces… This is the work of an amateur?

She’s reminiscent of another photographer, another mystery, Diane Arbus. But Arbus looks crude when compared to Maier. Maier’s black and white photography has the cool sleekness of gray. She doesn’t hammer you like Arbus with grotesques or preachiness, instead she dazzles you with elegance and deference. Where you’re well-aware Arbus’ subjects were being photographed, Maier seems invisible to everyone but herself. Two damaged souls. Interesting what pain delivers.




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