...And the Dan Winters tome is pretty amazing too.
I finally bought a copy of Vivian Maier: Self-Portraits, and it's even more wonderful than I thought it would be. Our esteemed friend Ken Tanaka wrote a fine brief review of the book back in November '13, so I won't write another review here. But I hadn't seen it myself before yesterday.
I think I like it best of the three books of her work I now have. The V.M. phenomenon is a part of the history of photography in the late 2000s, as I've opined elsewhere, and, really, she herself is the story, isn't she? Making this one of the important photobooks of the present era. The book has a completeness and a variety that makes it a very nice experience to look through. And the reproductions, as Ken said, are very pleasing. They look like...photographs, which I mean as high praise.
The woman seemed to have had a fascination with her own identity—or even her own existence. Her inclusion in many of these pictures is incidental, but she clearly thought of her reflection as part of her subject matter. The book is very well edited, I thought, and taken as a whole it's quite thought-provoking. This is one I'll return to.
I think this is the book of hers to have if you're going to have only one.
And before I leave the subject, why hasn't John Maloof gotten a MacArthur grant or—well, something of that sort? The guy is doing a stellar job as the custodian of Vivian's legacy. What luck that he happened to be the guy who bought the lion's share of her archive at that storage unit sale. I find myself just full of admiration for the fine job he's doing. Yes, I know he's been making some money from it, but good for him, really. He deserves it. What was going to happen to the archive otherwise? Every forgotten photographer should be so lucky, or even half so lucky. It's really fully the modern counterpart to Berenice Abbott's rescue of Atget.
The publisher of Road to Seeing sent me a copy, and I was taken aback at its size and breadth. It's a thick book, packed with text and illustrations. While I'm still not sure how much I'll engage with it, I really do admire its earnestness and enthusiasm. It's a thorough tour of one man's journey through photography with little held back. It's still basically a "how I shot this" book—but it's for sure the king of that genre, far surpassing most. If you have a liking for Dan's work, I'd say you'd better hop on this and hope that there actually is another shipment yet to come. As with the Vivian Maier book, you get very good value for your dollar with this one.
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Featured Comments from:
Kenneth Tanaka: "I certainly agree that John seems to be very devoted to getting Vivian's work in front of as many eyes as possible. (Hey, I'd vote for him above Uta Barth for a MacArthur Grant...but I'm not on the committee.)
"Let's also not forget the other major holder of Vivian's work, Jeff Goldstein. He also deserves salute and encouragement for his devoted work towards this campaign, having produced the excellent Vivian Maier: Out of the Shadows from his collection of Maier's work.
"And one more attaboy is due: Howard Greenberg has long been one of America's foremost dealers in 20th century photography. Rather than dismiss Maier's work, as all major art museum curators have done to date, Greenberg recognized and embraced the work's value and has devoted some resources to helping its exposition. (I'm sure that the upcoming generation of photo curators will follow Greenberg's leadership, as dealers are often major determinants of curators' preferences.) With a long and successful career in the bag, Greenberg needs Maier like a duck needs a third leg. Thank you Howard!
"I am glad you've enjoyed this book as I have, Mike. It's a lovely work."