autoritratto 1954

Identikit| Vivian Maier: Mary Poppins with the Rolleyflex on the streets of the Bronx

“I photographed the moments of your eternity, so that they wouldn’t be lost”.


autoritratto vivian maier
Autoritratto, New York 1953 – Credit: Vivian Maier

In 2007 John Maloof bought a warehouse at auction in Chicago.
Inside he finds an old trunk with more than one hundred thousand negatives: he realizes that he has found Vivian Maier’s hidden treasure.
So he decides to collect and pubblish them in the docufilm “In search of Vivian Maier. The nanny with the Rolleiflex ” making her talent known all over the world.

Here begins the story of the photographer, reserved to the point of having kept her shots hidden for most of her life.

Vivian Maier was born in the United States to an immigrant family of European origin.
She spends most of her childhood in France with her mother and a family friend, the photographer Jeanne Bertrand, thanks to which Vivian begins to become passionate about the world of photography.

She is twenty-eight when she decides to return to the Big Apple. So she sells his Champsour property and buys a ticket to New York.

A nanny on the streets of New York


New York 1959, Vivian Maier
East 108th Street. 28 settembre 1959 New York, NY – Credit: Vivian Maier

New York , 1951. Bob hair and a round collar dress. Vivian Maier responds to an ad in a local newspaper to work as a nanny for a Southampton family.
In moments of leisure, during afternoon walks with the children, she dedicates herself to immortalizing the moments of life on the streets of New York and later, in 1956, of Chicago.
Families have always intrigued her. She is fascinated by the fact that she can enter their world, become a spectator of their moments.
A city where she can observe the emotions and lives intertwined on the streets, a room for her things, a private bathroom where she can develop a dark room and her Rolleiflex, are enough for her.


Self-portraits among the shop windows


vivian maier 1955 ny
Maggio 1955, New York – Credit: Vivian Maier

Right from her room, Vivian begins to look for the right framing and takes the first self-portraits using her reflection on the window panes.
Maier uses shop windows, mirrors and reflective surfaces to portray herself with the camera firmly around her neck, as if to become part of that reality from which she perhaps feels alienated.
Photography is her way of communicating with the world around her, of telling stories.
Each element in the frame has its own weight and interacts in a way that is not at all obvious with the others, revealing an incredibly sharp and defined photographic vision that leaves no room for chance.

Street photography to narrate the world


Chicago 1961, teatro Balaban, vivian maier
The Balaban Artists Theatre nel 1961. Chicago – Credit: Vivian Maier

Maier’s street photography reproduces the American reality, the emotions and expressions of the subjects she immortalizes.
These are the stories of the people she meets in the suburbs of the city or by chance during one of her travels around the world.
The protagonists are children, streets, marginalized people, captured in the spontaneity of everyday life.
However, with the first color shots of the 1970s, Maier’s photography becomes more abstract.
The people, who had distinguished her photographic stories, are slowly replaced by objects and graffiti that will characterize her style until the end of the career of one of the most important photographers in the street genre.




M.Botta, https://iperarte.net/ledonnedellarte/vivian-maier/
D.Ambrosio, https://www.elle.com/it/magazine/storie-di- donne / a32355452 / vivian-maier-foto-famose /


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