Finding Vivian Maier: a documentary about talent, obscurity, and who owns what

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

I did a little living this past weekend. Took a former student and her friend out to tea. Bought a spring rain jacket with a hood. Acquired new jeans at a discount. Tried a new restaurant with my husband. And saw the film above.

It hit me hard. The story of a spinster nanny, odd in her own odd ways, who was also a richly talented photographer (now compared to Diane Arbus and Robert Frank) whose work was never seen in her lifetime. It was found—in boxes upon boxes upon boxes—by a young man who began to follow the trail. His curiosity led not just to this Sundance-featured film, but to gallery shows and gradual art-world acceptance (not yet complete acceptance) of Vivian Maier's talent.

So many of us labor out here, believing in our own work and hoping others will. Vivian Maier was different. She believed in her own work. And she hoarded it. It was discovered after she died. Is making her famous now a violation or an appreciation?

This film pursues the answers to many intriguing questions while also presenting a portfolio of memorable black-and-white photographs.


Jennifer R. Hubbard said...

I checked a book of her photos out of the library a little while ago. She apparently took a lot of pictures all the time, and it made her adept at seeing the world that way; she seemed to see the world in photographs.

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