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Imagine: Vivian Maier (BBC1, Tues 25th June 2013)

Discussion in 'Forthcoming Events' started by AlanW, Jun 18, 2013.

  1. AlanW

    AlanW Well-Known Member

  2. beatnik69

    beatnik69 Well-Known Member

    Looks like it could be interesting. Must try and remember to watch it. Thank you.
  3. andrebogaert

    andrebogaert Well-Known Member

    Yes this looks interesting, I'll record it.
    Thanks for the info.
  4. 0lybacker

    0lybacker In the Stop Bath

    Thanks for the heads up!

    Is it from a slightly sceptical viewpoint? Interesting if it is. I have some big questions about 'her' work.

  5. AlanW

    AlanW Well-Known Member

    The title does sound as though its more than just a straightforward look at her life and photographs. I haven't delved too deeply into her work up to now but I do think she'll come to be slotted into the history of photography in future publications. I could be wrong but I'd put her at least on a par with say Helen Levitt, would certainly like to see more of her colour work.

  6. 0lybacker

    0lybacker In the Stop Bath

    I would like to see contact sheets from complete films both B&W and colour. It was pure chance that someone lectured on her at my club. Not long before that I had heard her name mentioned somewhere as well as seeing reference to it in print.

    So, the morning after, I searched on the internet but could find no reference to this woman born of French parents, possibly/probably in France who was migrated to the USA as a child. Why?

    I had been searching for someone with a French-spelt forename Vivienne or Vivianne, not the American male spelling. That intrigued me and as I eventually found internet sources and looked at pictures and pieced together the story more questions arose. I would have liked to have met with the owner of her archive when he was in London in 2011 (I think) but I couldn't make the time available and it was too close to the time of his visit to expect an appointment. Maybe one day ...

    The work I have seen is good, very good. Too good? Interestingly, I have seen very few photos by her taken in 'bad' weather. That is interesting bearing in mind her location, Chicago, plus the fact that her photography was said to be limited to 52 days per year. There are other little doubts & apparent contradictions I would like resolved.
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2013
  7. AlanW

    AlanW Well-Known Member

    Interesting take, I've not heard anyone doubting the validity of the story before!

    Here's a trailer for the BBC programme: Vivian Maier: Who Took Nanny's Pictures?

    And there's also another documentary in production, here's the trailer for that one :Finding Vivian Maier

  8. spangler

    spangler Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the heads up, I saw her work when it was exhibited in London a couple of years back and was stunned by the images. In my list of favourite photographers she's up there with Diane Arbus and Lee Miller!

  9. 0lybacker

    0lybacker In the Stop Bath

    No reason why it should not be entirely legit.

    Apparently not much is known about Maier & those that might have known her are also said to be dead now.

    I was researching late on this and picked up on some of the sketchy information that was scattered about on the internet. That just led to lots of contradictions that need straightening out, especially now that galleries are getting involved and print sales are taking off.

    The sheer number of internet listings rang a small alarm bell so I would expect any serious curator to be careful.
  10. 0lybacker

    0lybacker In the Stop Bath

    Thanks for that, Alan.

    Did you notice one of the 'facts' from the trailer about Maier? She took photographs: 150,000 of them.

    A quick prod at the calculator makes that 410+ at a rate of one a day for a year or 10 a day for 41 years. Is my maths and thinking on that right or have I missed something? On the internet we are also told she worked six days a week as a nanny, rarely travelled or took holidays.

    :confused: Am puzzled.

  11. AlanW

    AlanW Well-Known Member

    Hi Oly,

    At www.vivianmaier.com they say "over 100,000 negatives", my guess is that no-one's actually counted them, they're probably still working their way through the scanning and cataloging process and most likely pulled a figure out of the air! I also think she was most likely taking photographs with children in tow and not just on her days off - in the BBC trailer Alan Yentob does say, "ever day she took pictures"!

    Just been looking at my own negative files and in the 10 years of shooting street photography up to 2006, at the rate of 2 rolls of 35mm each weekend - that's near enough 37,500 frames. If I'd done it for 41 years that comes to just over 150,000, so it could be done by a highly motivated person!

    For me the most important thing is that the negatives weren't lost! Hopefully the programme will clear things up!

    Here's another interesting clip from Chicago Tonight, I'm off now to hunt down some more.

  12. P_Stoddart

    P_Stoddart Well-Known Member

    Well, I really enjoyed that.

    Her photographs are amazing and to think they might have been lost.

    If you did not see this, get it up on iplayer.

    I loved to believe she was inspired by a visit the museum of art which was showing Bresson.
  13. AlanW

    AlanW Well-Known Member

    I think by the time she visited the exhibition she already knew what she was about, in one youtube clip I've seen you saw a selection of her photography books so she was well aware of what leading photographers where doing at the time (although it was late and I may be wrong with the chronology). Its also worth remembering that a photographic exhibition was still a rare event in the 1950's and given that the five photographers were all 'French', it was probably one exhibition she couldn't miss.

    Really enjoyed the programme, but will have to watch it again, in some ways she reminded me of Diane Arbus who came along a few years later.

    The press release for Five French Photographers makes interesting reading - although only three were actually French :)

    Last edited: Jun 26, 2013
  14. P_Stoddart

    P_Stoddart Well-Known Member

    The programme seem to suggest that after the exhibition her photography took on a new style, also this is when she switched to the TLR Rollei which might have change the shot pattern.
  15. AlanW

    AlanW Well-Known Member

    I'll have to watch it again when I'm more awake.

    Some initial thoughts: I'd mixed feelings about the folk who acquired her work and still wondering who's best placed to edit it. I thought they rushed her final years, possibly her subject matter was disappearing, in the 50's people still lived their lives out on the street, in the 60's she wasn't working with children anymore and the street people were no longer around so she did sort of loose her way. I'd have liked to have seen some of her colour photographs but I guess they weren't available to the programme makers. I have to say I do like Joel Meyerowitz, he's always good for a soundbite and seems to have become the voice of photography in America :)

  16. Zou

    Zou Well-Known Member

    Word for word agree with that. :)
  17. Geren

    Geren Well-Known Member

    l could have sworn I'd recorded this to watch in the comfort of my living room but had to make do with watching it here in the office on iplayer. It was worth it though!

    I'm usually quite sceptical in my outlook but I don't see any real reason to doubt that she took the photographs - there seem to be enough people around who did know that she was an avid shooter, from the kids she worked with to the people developing her negs. There were an awful lot of self-portraits too, which you know, could be some kind of double bluff but it seems like a huge amount of effort to go to before stuffing the lot into lockers to be sold (originally) for peanuts. If a dealer was hoping to make money out of found photographs in a dodgy manner, wouldn't it make more sense to attribute them to someone known?

    I think her character/personality/psyche are more interesting than the volume of shots she took. I know it's hugely "fashionable" to bandy words around like this these days, but as a mother of a child with Asperger's I did see hints of behaviours and outlook that made me wonder if there was something of that about her - that always being on the edge, not really integrating, and having an obsessive approach to photography that many people wouldn't "get" - by which I mean no desire to have her images printed up and seen. That whole business of the false information on her passport application - saying her parents were dead when in fact they were not. She was isolated in so many ways. That's the thing that I found fascinating.

    As for her work - well, yes. Some of it was so well thought out and beautifully done. Another mystery - how and where did she learn to use the camera? The film mentioned that one of the other owners of her work was working on a film of his own. I'd be interested to see that too. I'd love to know more about her as a person really. But as the film suggested, perhaps she wouldn't have liked that at all?
  18. P_Stoddart

    P_Stoddart Well-Known Member

    Some people have a natural talent. But I suspect she got some basic technical input for the camera shop.

    After all back then camera shop owners knew about the cameras they sold.

    Plus we don't know if she went out shooting had failures and binned them.

    But might have shown the lab owner and they might have said try this on the camera or that.

    Finally she might have read up on the subject and worked out the technical mistake she had made.
  19. beatnik69

    beatnik69 Well-Known Member

    Did it not say something about a French woman living with Vivian and her mother for a time when she was young, who was a photographer? Perhaps that's where she learnt some of her artistic and technical skills.
  20. Geren

    Geren Well-Known Member

    Yes, those could both be possibilities. I'm not convinced from what I've seen and read so far that she reviewed her work that thoroughly. So much of it was never even printed so unless she spent hours poring over the negs and decided that none of it was worth printing other than the very few that she did, it would suggest that this was an obsession that served its purpose just in the taking of the photographs. I guess we'll never know!

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