Steven Kasher Gallery is delighted to again present the recently discovered work of Vivian Maier. Vivian Maier: Unseen Images features 35 black and white prints. When Maier died in 2009, she left behind more than 120,000 negatives and 2,000 undeveloped rolls of film. Last year, a couple hundred of these rolls, shot in the 1960s and 1970s, were finally developed. A selection of these images make their debut in this exhibition.
Maier, whose day job was as a nanny, made over 100,000 distinctive street photographs, mostly in New York City and Chicago. What is known about Ms. Maier is that she was born in New York in 1926, lived in France (her mother was French) and returned to New York in 1951. Five years later, she moved to Chicago, where she worked for about 40 years as a nanny, principally for families in the North Shore suburbs. On her days off she wandered the streets of New York and Chicago, most often with a Rolleiflex camera. She did not share her pictures with others. Many of them she never saw herself: she left behind hundreds of undeveloped rolls.
A large collection, including 12,000 negatives and 70 homemade movies, is in the hands of Jeff Goldstein and his collaborators at Vivian Maier Prints. The first boxful of Maier’s negatives was acquired for $400 at an auction in 2007. They had been in a commercial storage locker whose contents were seized for non-payment. After being posted on Flickr they received accolades, and have been featured in numerous exhibitions and publications worldwide.
Quotes about Vivian Maier from the New York Times:
“That rare case of a genuine undiscovered artist, she left behind a huge trove of pictures that rank her with the great American midcentury street photographers. The best pictures bring to life a fantastic swath of history that now needs to be rewritten to include her.”
- Michael Kimmelman, The New York Times Magazine, February 16, 2012
“Vivian Maier, evidently one of America’s more insightful street photographers, has at last been discovered. The release of every fresh image on the Web causes a sensation among the growing legion of her admirers. Ms. Maier’s streetscapes manage simultaneously to capture a redolent sense of place and the paradoxical moments that give the city its jazz, while elevating and dignifying the people in her frames — vulnerable, noble, defeated, proud, fragile, tender and often quite funny.”
- David Dunlap, The New York Times, Lens Blog, January 7. 2011
“Even to those who knew her, Vivian Maier was a cipher. To the children she took care of on Chicago’s wealthy North Shore, she was Mary Poppins, if Mary Poppins carried an old Rolleiﬂex. To the amateur historian who unearthed thousands of negatives at an auction in Chicago in 2007, she was a revelation: an undiscovered Diane Arbus, whose work captured the grit and elegance of city life. Maier died unknown in 2009, but her work has since attracted a fervent following.”
- Julie Bosman, The New York Times Magazine, February 16, 2012
“The images are wonderful, with a keen but unvarnished empathy for their subjects, who include children, women, the indigent and the elderly…they may add to the history of 20th-century street photography by summing it up with an almost encyclopedic thoroughness, veering close to just about every well- known photographer you can think of, including Weegee, Robert Frank and Richard Avedon, and then sliding off in another direction. Yet they maintain a distinctive element of calm, a clarity of composition and a gentleness characterized by a lack of sudden movement or extreme emotion.”
- Roberta Smith, The New York Times, Art in Review, January 19, 2012