The Riddle of Vivian Maier

04.09.2013 — 27.10.2013

The Lumiere is pleased to announce an exhibition of one of the most enigmatical photographers of 20th century – Vivian Maier. She was capturing the spontaneity of street scenes with precision reminiscent of Henri-Cartier-Bresson, her fantastic compositions are similar to Andre Kertesz. It is also considered that Maier was familiar with photographers Lisette Model and Jeanne Bertrand. However, nothing is certain about Vivian Maier – she managed to carry the secret of her love for photography throughout her life.

Vivian Maier worked for about forty years as a nanny in Chicago. During those years she managed to amass more than 2,000 rolls of films, 3,000 prints and more than 100,000 negative which were shared with virtually no one in her lifetime. Her photographs remained unknown and mostly undeveloped and unprinted until they were discovered in 2007 at a local auction house in Chicago where one of Maier’s storage lockers containing her massive group of negatives was auctioned off due to delinquent payments.

There are 50 black and white silver gelatin photographs in the exhibition – mostly from the 50s and 60s. Indelible images of the architecture and street life of Chicago and New York. It was 50s when her work changed dramatically. Maier began shooting with a square format. She bought an expensive Rolleiflex camera instead of her old Kodak Brownie. She rarely took more than one frame of each image and concentrated on children, women, the elderly, and indigent. The breadth of Maier’s work also reveals a series of striking self-portraits as well as print from her travels to Egypt, Bangkok, Italy, and the American Southwest, among dozens of other international cities.

Distinctly solitary and driven by private motivations, Vivian Maier was a natural-born photographer who captured extraordinary images of her subjects and, in doing so, revealed the essence of America. Vivian Maier was childless herself but worked for many years as a nanny (seemingly a guise affording her the basics: food, clothing, shelter and time in order for her to pursue photography), a profession that allowed her to document the complex beauty of life.

For the last two years more than 11 solo exhibits have been opened in the United States and Europe. In 2011 first monographic book Vivian Maier: Street Photographer was published by powerHouse; in 2013 – Vivian Maier: Out of Shadows. Vivian Maier’s photographs are on view at the Lumiere Brothers Center for Photography for the first time in Moscow and in Russia.

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