Vivian Maier, (1926-2009), photographed the streets of New York and Chicago from the early 1950s through to the 1990s. She was not a photographer by profession, but a nanny, and she built up a private collection of more than 100,000 images. Her work was discovered by John Maloof in 2007 when part of it came up for sale in a thrift auction.
Based upon the images in the exhibition, Maier focused her camera, (a twin lens reflex I believe), very much on people rather than places. Her images are generally candid and close up. Often she depicts poverty – I must admit I wondered how some of the down and outs she depicts reacted to having their photograph taken – especially by a woman in the 1950s. Take a look at ‘Sept 24, 1959, New York, NY‘ for example.
I found some of her images very striking:
- the direct impassive stare of the man in ‘May, 1953, New York, NY‘ intimidates its viewers
- the huddled and hopeless body language of the man in ‘1953, New York, NY’ renders the depiction of his face unnecessary.
- the filthy scowling boys in ‘Undated Canada‘ whose clothes and barren surroundings suggest that they have nothing.