Photoville

©Estate of Vivian Maier, Courtesy of Maloof Collection and Howard Greenberg Gallery, NY
©Estate of Vivian Maier, Courtesy of Maloof Collection and Howard Greenberg Gallery, NY
©Estate of Vivian Maier, Courtesy of Maloof Collection and Howard Greenberg Gallery, NY
©Estate of Vivian Maier, Courtesy of Maloof Collection and Howard Greenberg Gallery, NY
©Estate of Vivian Maier, Courtesy of Maloof Collection and Howard Greenberg Gallery, NY

The life of Vivian Maier (1926-2009) is a fascinating story about one of the greatest photographers of the 20th century. Maier observed life. She watched it happen, followed it, even hunted it, leaving nothing to chance. The scenes she photographed are often anecdotes, coincidences, lapses of reality, the “residual” moments of life to which no one pays attention, but which nevertheless became the subject of her narratives. Each of her images are situated in a place where the ordinary sheds its skin and becomes extraordinary.

Maier’s photographic language lies at the crossroads of humanist photography, a style she probably owes to her French roots, and American Street Photography, which informs her traditional visuals. The artist uses street scenes, sidewalk chronicles, portraits, self-portraits, and gestures to depict a precise record of her time. She meticulously documented the urban fabric and socio-political changes of American society in New York and Chicago during the 1950s, creating a rich visual language which she portrays through photography and film.

Vivian Maier: Unseen Work is on view now at Fotografiska New York. This exhibition sheds new light on Maier’s dense and unique body of work, and places this “amateur” photographer alongside some of the greatest names in photographic history, including Robert Frank, Diane Arbus, Robert Doisneau, and Henri Cartier-Bresson.

Artist Bios

  • Vivian Maier

    Vivian Maier’s work was unknown during her lifetime, though today she is considered one of the greatest photographers of the twentieth century. Born to a French mother and Austrian father in the Bronx in 1926, Maier spent her early years between New York and France, the latter being where she started exploring photography in 1949.

    In 1951, Maier returned to New York City, where she was hired as a governess, which would be her occupation for the next 40 years. In 1956, she moved to the North Shore suburbs of Chicago, where she landed a position with a family of three boys. Maier’s job as a caretaker allowed her to continue pursuing photography and also grew her interest and fascination with capturing childhood through the lens of her camera.

    However, a lack of stability in her career and financial situation, combined with a fierce desire for privacy, prevented her from developing her own film. She placed undeveloped, unprinted work into storage with her other belongings in the early 2000s, when she moved between living in a small studio apartment and being unhoused. In 2007, due to rent payments, the negatives were auctioned off by the storage company, where a large portion of them were purchased by John Maloof.

    Maloof, a filmmaker and photographer himself, became the first person to bring Maier’s work into the public eye and began to promote it widely just after her passing in 2009.

Organizations

  • Fotografiska New York

    Fotografiska New York

    Fotografiska is the contemporary museum for photography, art, and culture. Founded in Stockholm in 2010, Fotografiska is a destination to discover world-class photography, eclectic programming, elevated dining, and surprising new perspectives.

    Guided by a mission to inspire a more conscious world through the power of photography, art, and culture, Fotografiska produces dynamic and unparalleled rotating exhibitions, spanning various genres in inclusive environments. With a dedicated international community and locations in Stockholm, New York City, Tallinn, Berlin, and Shanghai, Fotografiska is the premier global gathering place for photography and culture.

Vivian Maier: Unseen Work

 coming soon

Featuring: Vivian Maier

Presented by: Fotografiska New York
  • Fotografiska New York

Locations

ON VIEW AT: Truss Banner 39

View Location Details Brooklyn Bridge Park – Emily Warren Roebling Plaza

1 Water St
Brooklyn, NY 11201

Number 1 on the official photoville map Click to download this year's map

This location is part of Brooklyn Bridge Park
Explore other locations and exhibitions nearby

Vivian Maier: Unseen Work is supported by Women In Motion, a Kering program that shines a light on the talent of women in the fields of arts and culture.

This website was made possible thanks to the generous support and partnership of Photowings