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Monday, 24 September 2012


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Thanks so much for posting this, I didn't know another book was coming out.

The presentation of whole rolls as contact sheet-style prints is inspired! This show is yet another reason to regret that I no longer live in Chicago. Any word on whether this show will travel? NYC, please!

Photographic Center Northwest (in Seattle) will be displaying "Vivian Maier: Out of the Shadows" Feb 1 - March 13, 2013, for those who can't make the trek to Chicago. See pcnw.org for details. Their gallery space is somewhat limited, so I don't know if it will have everything from the forthcoming book.

NO thanks so much for posting this. I had this book on my Amazon wish list, waiting for maybe an early review or two addressing the print quality since the 1st book was lacking in that area. Now you've forced my hand into buying it sight unseen lest the TOP Effect kick in and render the book OOP in a matter of seconds. It's bad enough that you're doing this with books that have been released. Must you also do it to books that haven't even been released yet?

I sooo wish this show would travel to Gothenburg ...

Can anyone shed light on something for me: Why would they tone the images? Is there a practical reason? Or aesthetic?

Maybe I don't know a lot, but I know the real deal when I see it. Vivian was that.

My wife and I stumbled across this show in Chicago last week. Didn't even know it was on. What luck! It is beautifully presented and well worth seeing. A lot of the critics are really out to lunch on Vivian Maier. Her work stands alongside the best of the last century. Great stuff!

@ robin: I can't speak for the curators or exhibition designers but by sense is that toning the large prints was purely aesthetic. There is really no technical reason to do so. The images come from plain ol' b&w film negatives. I should say, however, that it's not a distracting effect in this show. The walls are brown, the floor is a dull green. But such "Ye Olde Tyme Photo" effects, such as sepia toning, just scream "ignorant amateur" and devalue the work.. Can you imagine, for example, someone deciding they will sepia-tone large prints in a Robert Frank or Cartier-Bresson show?

Exactly Kenneth. It just seems slightly cheesy to me. Was hoping I was missing something! Still, would love to see the show. Her work is fantastic.

Preordered! Would love to see the exhibition and the prints, though! Alas, too far..

Re Tanaka's comment, who but an odd duck would be a street photographer? But Lord love a duck, especially this kind of odd duck.

Thanks Ken. I'm coming into the city Wednesday probably to watch the big bridges around 18th Street go up for the boats to come inland for the winter - around 9:30 or 10 am. Now I know what to do with the rest of the morning! Good timing for me.

Hope to see the show sometime, somewhere- and put me down as another who is severely hoping they didn't "overcook" (ie- sepia tone) the reproductions in the book for reasons unknown and unnecessary.

BTW- Does anyone know if Colin Westerbeck, former curator of The Art Institute of Chicago and author of Bystander: The History Of Street Photography, has revised his initial assessment of Ms. Maier as a photographer who "doesn't stand out?"

There is a very good post about Maloof/Maier in Mother Jones (link below)- I'm particularly struck by the similarities in the photo of the two moms and their two kids in both the featured Maier photo, and the Winogrand photo (link below).

Also amazed by Maier's explanation of why she averted seeing doctors- "because too many other people couldn't afford to." She most definitely wasn't a Republican.

Also of note- Joel Meyerowitz, co-author of Bystander: The History of Street Photography, will be coming out with a new version that will include Maier.



Looks like a great installation. Wish I could get to Chicago to see it but it probably won't happen.

Regarding the toning: on my screen it looks purplish which would be selenium toning. There are technical reasons to do it (it changes the shadow values, some printing paper has a greenish cast without it, etc.) and some printers never make a print without selenium toning but it looks to me like it was overdone (to my taste).

Toning of B&W prints was thought, at various points, to improve longevity. Sometimes I believe it was even true. It was also, of course, done for aesthetic reasons.

Why it's done NOW is an interesting question. Were those big prints darkroom prints, or digital prints from scans? There's no basic longevity reason for dialing in a color tone in B&W inkjet printing of course, the reason in that case must be aesthetic.

It would also be nice to see some of the color photos she took. Hopefully, the new book will not duplicate the images from the first book.

"so deeply up its collective arse" - Oh it's you Ken. I thought Mike had moved to a darker coffee roast for a moment.

We see all 12 6x6 frames of each selected roll, the progressive sequence of how she worked a subject, the stinkers with the gems.

I love to see this done. It can be very insightful.

The French TV programme Contacts (available on DVD) uses this trope to show how photographers work showing multiple contact sheets whilst discussing the photographers work (or having the photographer do the discussion).

It was also done to great effect in the Alfred Eisenstaedt epsiode of Master Photographer (BBC, 1983) in which Eisenstaedt goes through the contacts for V–J day in Times Square with Eisenstaedt commenting on which worked (one shot) and which didn't (all the other shots).

It also gives hope that the geniuses didn't get it right 100% of the time. When viewing the finished work one can sometimes get that feeling.

You can often find these shows on DVD, or YouTube or elsewhere on the net.

Thank you for the 'heads up' on the book front, copy duly ordered!

Like so many other people I couldn't quite believe what I was seeing in the first book. My overall feeling when I got to the end was sadness because she should have been one of the people so easily referred to nowadays as icon's of street photography, she should have been a star in her own lifetime. Lets hope the Maier message goes out even further this time because the work is second to none.

I was very excited to go to her exhibition in London, in the end I found the show slightly unsettling and I suppose because of my mood somewhat disappointing.

The quality of the images is not at all in question, they are extremely powerful.

My overwhelming impression was that she was furious. Quite different to a lot of the best documentary or journalistic work which seems somehow "objective" and lets the viewer bring their own politics and moral stance.

No by contrast I was never in doubt as to Ms. Maier's politics or ethics, on an image-by-image basis. She was angry, angry, angry. Perhaps, as the archive is studied we will get a clearer and more coherent picture of her legacy.

But in the London show I never quite understood why she was so incensed when the show was taken as a whole.

I really look forward to seeing what emerges over the next few years.

Heck I'm even half-convincing myself that there might be an MFA thesis in there if I can spare the time. :)

Ken, thanks for the review. Do you know if anyone is wet printing these negatives, or are they just being interpreted with a scanner?

I've always wondered about the propriety of toning photos that were never previously toned when reproducing them for use in books, exhibitions and what-not.

Personally, I like to see 'em as the photographer originally intended, which in this case almost certainly means not toned.

That said, based upon Ken's comments, I now need to figure out a reason to take a business trip to Chicago so I can see the show myself.

"There is a very good post about Maloof/Maier in Mother Jones"

This show isn't from the Maloof holdings. It's from Jeffrey Goldstein's Maier holdings.


Craig Arnold - there are theses and theses waiting to be done on this story - please don't leave it to these 'collectors'. You are on the right track to wonder what drove her. You can flip through the new Walker Evans book and say, "Yep, that's Walker Evans.." but it is such a different thing to sit down with it and a cup of coffee, turn the pages slowly, and read each image. You would have to be blind to not be moved. I think you are sensing this with her too.

Among my initial reactions to this work were "Women absolutely make the best street photographers" and "The Rolleiflex TLR is one hell of a camera..."

I'm don't know where the idea comes from that the photographs didn't have a tone to them when originally printed? Anybody know?

True enough the images from the exhibition do look way over toned, but museums do things like that when making contextural exhibits aimed at illustration rather than literal reproduction. So you may as well say that if Maier didn't print an image why should the museum or the publisher print it? Like toning, it wasn't her intent. But realistically the papers available when Maier was alive did come in many varied types, and very warmed toned papers would have been as common as a cool toned or neutral papers. Nobody nowadays seems to remember Afga Portiga and its chocolate tones, not achieved through a second toning bath, but right out of the developer dish. So I think some slack should be cut to the museum, and to the publisher of the book while waiting to seeing a copy. It would be a great shame if the images were over toned, but 'chocolate' would have been an easy choice in the 1950's, and who is to say Maier didn't like it?

@ Jeff Warden: No, I'm not aware of anyone wet-printing Maier's images.

@ Stan B: Colin Westerbeck was an associate curator at the Art Institute of Chicago in the 1980's and also taught at the SAIC. I've read some of his writings and respect his point of view, even when it's wrong.

"This show isn't from the Maloof holdings. It's from Jeffrey Goldstein's Maier holdings."

Well, that is interesting... Which means that somewhere down the line, after the requisite number of years have passed and the novelty has worn off, negotiations will then proceed to temporarily unite both sets of "competing" images. Then, and only then, will we be treated to the definitive Maier retrospective, and the definitive book of her work.

I just got the new Vivian Maier book in the mail. When I put it up on my bookshelf, I thought "now I have more Vivian Maier books than any other photographer's books." But I put them next to my cookbooks, and realized that my Thomas Keller cookbooks are really Deborah Jones photography books too, and I have more of those.

Just recieved the new book. Spectacular, as good if no better than the previous at least on first blush. Great printing and binding.

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