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5.01.2014

Finding Vivian Maier

Saw Finding Vivian Maier this weekend, the documentary about a recently-discovered street photographer who worked as a nanny for most of her life and died in 2009, leaving over 100K photos in a storage unit.  She never attempted to show them to anyone, apparently; and in 2007 John Maloof bought her negatives for about $600 at an auction, and shared them on the internet to widespread acclaim.




Though Vivian Maier hasn't been accepted by the 'cannon'; for example MoMa showed no interest in her work; her shows have been widely attended and she is well-received by the multitudes.

What is the criteria for being a great artist?  Is something art simply because people like it?  Or does it need to satisfy some aesthetic criteria; this scenario brings to mind Monet and the other impressionists who were laughed at and kicked out by the establishement, only to be revered later.  Art is funny like that.


Let's assume that her photographs are brilliant; does this confirm the idea that it's the people who are most on the margins of society who are the most perceptive?  ~Vivian never married, had no real contact with family to speak of, was a bit of an eccentric recluse and very private person, and worked her entire life as a nanny.

Why didn't Vivian make the effort to promote her work?  She estimated, from a letter that she wrote but never sent, that her photogrphy was quite good.  Was it too much of a burden to get her work out there?  Why did she think that the photography in and of itself was its own end?  Clearly she felt no obligation to society to share her work, although people clearly are benefiting from it now that it's been discovered.

hmm, a lot of food for thought here in this documentary.  I could see it again, but I probably won't.  Not enough time, not enough money etc etc.

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