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Tuesday, 04 March 2014


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Interesting timing. I had a B&N gift card burning a hole in my pocket, and ordered this yesterday. I have the first "Street Photographer" book, and I think her images are wonderful. We should be thankful that work like this hasn't been lost to time and dust.

As per usual, The Road to Seeing is out of stock at Amazon Japan and they have not the slightest clue if it will ever be in stock. In fact, it was out-of-stock before any were actually in stock as far as I could tell.

But I am used to that sort of thing now. Anytime I find a book in a local shop in Tokyo, even if it is more expensive, I buy it. I learnt my lesson when I had Saul Leiter's Early Color on order for over a month. Then he died suddenly as the shipping date approached. Immediately the book became unavailable. An Amazon book on order means nothing until it is in one's hands. I had earlier neglected to pick it up at a local shop as Amazon listed it a few bucks cheaper.

Now, if only I can find The Road to Seeing locally...

A big part of the Maier archive was purchased and developed into the second of the three books by Jeffrey Goldstein. Goldstein doesn't mention Maloof, and Maloof doesn't mention Goldstein, which is discouraging. But it must mean that a big chunk of her life is missing from the Maloof editions, which seems to be the better presented one. @Ken Tanaka, do you know if there is any effort going on to put the two parts together into a more complete picture?


Thanks, Mike! I have the self-portraits book already, but (cringe with shame) haven't found the time to look through it yet. I really liked the other two books of her work and found the self-portraits included to be among the most fascinating images, so I'm not sure why I haven't even briefly gone through a whole book of such images... maybe I'm afraid it might get dull to have a whole bunch of them at once? Anyway, I think today I will rectify this lapse...

Permanent home for some Maier photos


@ scott kirkpatrick: "...do you know if there is any effort going on to put the two parts together into a more complete picture?" No, I have no knowledge of how these fellows collaborate, if at all.

But, regarding that "more complete picture" it's not yet clear what each of these collections really contains. It's been suggested, at least by Maloof, that we've only seen some drippin's thus far. Hopefully a broader disclosure of the works in each collection will appear in publications in the coming years.

My own suspicion, based purely on intuition, is that we've basically "seen" Vivian's work. What will come forward is more of essentially what's already been shown. I will, however, be delighted to have my intuition utterly discredited by future evidence.

Vivian Maier working alone for so long and producing such a body of work is certainly a great accomplishment. But saying that John Maloof's promotion of Maier's work is the modern counterpart to B. Abbott's rescue of Atget is going to far. Trough Abbott efforts, Atget influenced Walker Evans, who influenced others. I can't imagine that Vivian Maier street photography will have any influence. For many reasons (personality, friends, teaching, controversy) Garry Winogrand had surely more impact at the time. In art photography influence is more than half of the game.

Yves- You're no doubt right in stating that Atget has had the greater influence, but you must also consider the vastly different scenario the state of the art has evolved into. And then to compare a known photographer's influence on his contemporaries, with an unknown discovered half a century later is really wide of the mark.

Goldstein and one of the producers of the BBC documentary were in Milwaukee last week for a screening and Q & A. Very interesting. The producer said that Maloof pulled out of the film as he is doing his own. However, Goldstein said that he collaborated with Maloof to track down her heirs so that they can sell the prints. It was a very interesting evening.

Thanks for the post, Mike. I just clicked onto one of your affiliates and purchased a copy.

@ Yves: "In art photography influence is more than half of the game."

Actually your observation would be even more sweepingly accurate if it were edited to read, "In art influence is the game.", at least where major museums and many big collectors are concerned. Your thesis is sometimes called the billiard basis and it represents a principal argument against collecting and/or showing late and inconsequential discoveries. It's valid as a discipline in scholarship. Vivian was playing a terrific game of billiards...on her own basement table with herself.

Personally, of course, I don't care. I love looking at Vivian Maier's work, yes, even more than that of Evans and much more than Atget (whose allure is a real mystery to me). And at least in my book, looking beats scholarship and historical billiard stories any hour of the day, eh?

But you are essentially correct, Yves, with your implied thesis that Vivian Maier's lack of influence will prevent her work from rising much above a footnote in art history.

"But you are essentially correct, Yves, with your implied thesis that Vivian Maier's lack of influence will prevent her work from rising much above a footnote in art history."

Why would that be true Ken? By that token, Atget would only be a footnote, and he is much more than that. And was Van Gogh known at all in his lifetime? (I don't know, I'm just asking.) There must be many more.


When John came to our Flickr group and asked us what he should do with the photos he'd stumbled onto, I was a bit concerned that the vultures would swoop down and snap it all up.

The discussion's here: http://www.flickr.com/groups/onthestreet/discuss/72157622552378986/

Thankfully, he's done a terrific job in handling Maier's work thus far.

I'm late to this, but i saw the large exhibit at the Mpls Photo Center last weekend before it closed, and loved it. I'm happy they'll have a permanent exhibit of her work (as Hudson linked above).

As part of the exhibit they showed the BBC documentary on Vivian, and it has a lost of background on her life, great stuff. I haven't read the books yet, not sure how much of this was already known, but such a great story. They talked with all of the major holders of Maier's work except for John Maloof, who refused because of his own project. It left me sad that there isn't more cooperation between the current owners. I want to believe that Maloof and the others have her work's' best interest at heart, but this protectionism felt more like exploitation than preservation.

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