Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Finding Vivian Maier

This absorbing documentary about the secretive street photographer/nanny Vivian Maier has finally reached the screens. I first discovered her work three years ago, this documentary answered most of my questions about Vivian (Miss Maier to her charges) the person, but this film left me wanting more of her photographs.

Vivian was a hoarder. Were these negatives the way for Vivian to capture the world around her, and if so, why did she never share these? There are hints of Vivian’s darker side here, her slide into old age wasn’t pretty, it was obvious that she had some serious mental health issues. The documentary is very well done, respectful of the people interviewed and filled with home movies and even sound clips from Vivian herself. The technical section was fascinating to me (I used to do a lot of this kind of work) but might not be of interest to the casual viewer.  I’d love to see a full-blown exhibition of her best work, but that might be several years off, many of the Chicago rolls have yet to be processed. While most of those images we did see in the film have been previously shown on John Maloof’s websites, it was still a thrill to see them on the big screen in HD.

One of the best documentaries I’ve ever seen, well worth your attention even if you aren’t a photo buff.

For a look at Vivian that is more focused on her photographic development, this Chicago Tonight feature offers clues as to what inspired her to take up fine art photography.

By Professor Batty


Blogger Mary said...

I agree - a very, very well made documentary on a fascinating topic. My son, husband and I went to see it and talked about it a lot afterward. Perhaps our most interesting discussion was around the connection and compassion and humor Vivian Maier showed in her art that perhaps she did not do in actual interpersonal relationships.

The film stays with me, I think of it a lot even several days later.

Blogger Jono said...

That looks fascinating. Is it available through non-theater venues for those of us on the fringes of the civilized world?

Blogger Professor Batty said...

Mary ~ I took it somewhat personally, as in why do I continue to take pictures? I do show them however, and my hoarding is limited to guitars.

Jon ~ I think this will show up on cable, maybe even PBS, Netflix for sure.

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