Vivian Maier went her whole life uncelebrated. She spent her years in Chicago doting over the children of others, second fiddle to many. Maier was a nanny by profession, but she was a photographer by obsession. She shot the world around her, observing in anonymity, and then tucked her works away.
In 2007, entirely by chance, a man named John Maloof purchased a large box. In it, a sizable number of prints, negatives, and rolls of film—the enthralling archives of an unsung master. Maloof went on to make a documentary about Maier, 2015’s Academy Award-nominated Finding Vivian Maier. The film put a spotlight on Maier’s works, specifically the black and white images, and earned her comparisons to Garry Winogrand, Helen Levitt, and Robert Doisneau—would-be contemporaries had she been recognized at all.
Maier has heretofore been celebrated for her monochromatic works—quintessential snapshots of city life, full stories told on a two-dimensional plane. A new exhibition at Howard Greenberg Gallery in New York City, however, is a showcase of Maier’s many Ektachrome color photographs, some never before seen. Vivian Maier: The Color Work surveys images captured from the 1950s on through the 1980s.
Maier’s eye for idiosyncrasies and knack for peculiar self-portraiture carries through. The quality of her works—and the many years she spent the time dutifully and compulsively capturing the world around her—makes it ever the more tragic that it took so long for the world to pay attention to her.
Vivian Maier: The Colour Work
Running through January 5, 2019
Howard Greenberg Gallery
41 E 57th St, New York, NY 10022
Header image: Vivian Maier, Untitled, 1979. © Estate of Vivian Maier. Courtesy of the Maloof Collection and Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York.