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Vivian Maier
Vivian Maier

Vivian Maier

Country: United States
Birth: 1926 | Death: 2009

Vivian Dorothea Maier was an American amateur street photographer, who was born in New York City but grew up in France. After returning to the United States, she worked for about forty years as a nanny in Chicago, IL. During those years, she took about 100,000 photographs, primarily of people and cityscapes in Chicago, although she traveled and photographed worldwide.

Her photographs remained unknown and mostly undeveloped until they were discovered by a local Chicago historian and collector, John Maloof, in 2007. Following Maier's death, her work began to receive critical acclaim. Her photographs have been exhibited in the US, England, Germany, Denmark, and Norway, and have appeared in newspapers and magazines in the US, England, Germany, Italy, France and other countries. A book of her photography titled Vivian Maier: Street Photographer was published in 2011.

Many of the details of Maier's life are still being uncovered. Initial impressions about her life indicated that she was born in France, but further researching revealed that she was born in New York, the daughter of Maria Jaussaud and Charles Maier, French and Austrian respectively. Vivian moved between the U.S. and France several times during her childhood, although where in France she lived is unknown. Her father seems to have left the family for unknown reasons by 1930. In the census that year, the head of the household was listed as award-winning portrait photographer Jeanne Bertrand, who knew the founder of the Whitney Museum of American Art.

In 1951, at 25, Maier moved from France to New York, where she worked for some time in a sweatshop. She made her way to the Chicago area's North Shore in 1956 and became a nanny on and off for about 40 years, staying with one family for 14 of them. She was, in the accounts of the families for whom she worked, very private, spending her days off walking the streets of Chicago and taking photographs, most often with a Rolleiflex camera.

John Maloof, curator of Maier's collection of photographs, summarizes the way the children she nannied would later describe her: "She was a Socialist, a Feminist, a movie critic, and a tell-it-like-it-is type of person. She learned English by going to theaters, which she loved. She wore a men's jacket, men's shoes and a large hat most of the time. She was constantly taking pictures, which she didn't show anyone." Between 1959 and 1960, Maier traveled to and photographed in Los Angeles, Manila, Bangkok, Beijing, Egypt, Italy and the American Southwest. The trip was probably financed by the sale of a family farm in Alsace. For a brief period in the 1970s, Maier worked as a nanny for Phil Donahue's children. As she got older, she collected more boxes of belongings, taking them with her to each new post. At one employer's house, she stored 200 boxes of materials. Most were photographs or negatives, but Maier collected other objects, such as newspapers, and sometimes recorded audiotapes of conversations she had with people she photographed. Toward the end of her life, Maier may have been homeless for some time. She lived on Social Security and may have had another source of income, but the children she had taken care of in the early 1950s bought her an apartment in the Rogers Park area of Chicago and paid her bills. In 2008, she slipped on ice and hit her head. She did not fully recover and died in 2009, at 83.

Source: Wikipedia


Sometime in 1949, while still in France, Maier began making her first photographs with a modest Kodak Brownie– an amateur camera with only one shutter speed, no focus control, and no aperture dial. In 1951, she returned from France alone and purchased a Rolleiflex camera the following year. In 1956, she moved to the North Shore suburbs of Chicago, where a family employed her as a nanny for their three boys. She enjoyed the luxury of a darkroom as well as a private bathroom, enabling her to process prints and develop her own rolls of black and white film. As the children entered adulthood, Maier had to seek other employment, forcing her to abandon developing her own film. Moving from family to family thereafter, her rolls of undeveloped, unprinted work began to collect. It was around this time that Maier decided to switch to color photography. Her subject matter shifted away from people to found objects, newspapers, and graffiti. In the 1980s, financial stress and lack of stability once again put Maier’s processing on hold, and the undeveloped color rolls began to accumulate. Sometime between the late 1990s and the first years of the new millennium, Maier put down her camera and stored her belongings while she tried to stay afloat. She bounced from homelessness to a small studio apartment, which a family she used to work for helped pay the rent. With meager means, the photographs in storage became lost memories until 2007, when they were sold off due to non-payment of rent. In 2008, Maier’s health began to deteriorate after she fell on a patch of ice, forcing her into a nursing home. She never made a full recovery, leaving behind an immense archive of work when she died in 2009.

Source: Howard Greenberg Gallery


When John Maloof, a real-estate agent, amateur historian, and garage-sale obsessive, acquired a box of photographic materials and personal detritus at an auction in suburban Chicago in 2007, he quickly realized that he had stumbled upon an unknown master of street photography. But despite his vigorous snooping, he could find no record of Vivian Maier, the name scribbled on the scraps of paper that he found among the negatives, prints, and undeveloped rolls of film. He tracked down the rest of the boxes emptied from an abandoned storage garage, amassing a collection of hundreds of thousands of frames shot in New York, Chicago, France, South America, and Asia between the nineteen-fifties and the nineteen-seventies.

Two years after he bought the first box, he Googled the name again and, to his surprise, found an obituary announcing that Vivian Maier had died only a few days before. The short text had just enough information for Maloof to deduce that Maier had worked as a nanny in suburban Chicago.

Source: The New Yorker

 

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1976
Pieter Hugo was born 1976 and grew up in Cape Town, South Africa. He is a South African photographer who primarily works in portraiture and whose work engages with both documentary and art traditions with a focus on African communities. Hugo is self-taught, having picked up a camera aged 10. He remembers the first image he printed, which was a homeless person in Johannes. After working in the film industry in Cape Town, Pieter Hugo spent a two-year Residency at Fabrica, Treviso, Italy. Hugo has called himself a political-with-a-small-p photographer... it's hard not to be as soon as you pick up a camera in South Africa'. He believes that "the power of photography is inherently voyeuristic but I want that desire to look to be confronted." He also states that he is "deeply suspicious of the power of photography." Early on in his career he noticed that, "he often found himself being critically scrutinized by the subject he was photographing. It was then that he decided to switch to a larger and more cumbersome format of photography, one that would require negotiating consent and dialogue with the person being photographed - a more sedate and contemplative approach." He is known to use a Hasselblad camera and regularly shoots in the 4x5 format. His influences range from South African photojournalist David Goldblatt to Boris Mikhailov. However, his work reacts against 'the culture of realism that defined South African photography in the struggle years.' Hugo's first major photo collection Looking Aside consisted of a collection of portraits of people "whose appearance makes us look aside", his subjects including the blind, people with albinism, the aged, his family and himself. Explaining his interest in the marginal he has said, "My homeland is Africa, but I'm white. I feel African, whatever that means, but if you ask anyone in South Africa if I'm African, they will almost certainly say no. I don't fit into the social topography of my country and that certainly fuelled why I became a photographer." This was followed by Rwanda 2004: Vestiges of a Genocide which the Rwanda Genocide Institute describes as offering "a forensic view of some of the sites of mass execution and graves that stand as lingering memorials to the many thousands of people slaughtered." His most recognized work is the series called The Hyena & Other Men and which was published as a monograph. It has received a great deal of attention. Hugo won first prize in the Portraits section of the World Press Photo 2005 for a portrait of a man with a hyena. In 2007, Hugo received the Standard Bank Young Artist Award 07. Hugo was also working on a series of photographs called Messina/Mussina that were taken in the town of Musina on the border between Zimbabwe and South Africa and which was published as a monograph. At the time Colors magazine asked Hugo to work on an AIDS story and he was fascinated by the marginal aspect of the town. This was followed by a return to Nigeria with Nollywood, which consists of pictures of the Nigerian film industry. Permanent Error followed in 2011 where Hugo photographed the people and landscape of an expansive dump of obsolete technology in Ghana. Sean O'Toole writes "if Nollywood was playfully over-the-top, a smart riposte to accusations of freakishness and racism leveled at his photography..., Permanent Error marks Hugo’s return to a less self-reflexive mode of practice." In 2011 Hugo collaborated with Michel Cleary and co-directed the video of South African producer/DJ Spoek Mathambo's cover version of Joy Division's She's Lost Control, the fourth single from his album Mshini Wam. Commissioned by Italian luxury label Bottega Veneta, Hugo photographed models Amanda Murphy and Mark Cox for the brand’s spring/summer 2014 campaign, with the images shot in a wood in New Jersey. In the Spring of 2014, Hugo was commissioned by Creative Court to go to Rwanda and capture stories of forgiveness as a part of Creative Court's project Rwanda 20 Years: Portraits of Forgiveness. The project was displayed in The Hague in the Atrium of The Hague City Hall for the 20th commemoration of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. A selection of the photos have also been displayed in New York at the exhibition Post-Conflict which was curated by Bradley McCallum, Artist in Residence for the Coalition for the International Criminal Court. Flat Noodle Soup (2016) chronicles Hugo's lengthy engagement with the city of Beijing, exploring how concerns with expressing personal identity within societal norms and pressures are universal and transnational. La Cucaracha is a 2019 body of work made during four trips to Mexico over a two-year period. The photographic series explores Hugo's perception of the flamboyant and violent environment of Mexico with overt art historical references to the nation's visual canon of pre-colonial customs and revolutionary ideology.Source: Wikipedia Between 2006 and 2013, Pieter Hugo worked on a project that he called Kin. This deals with home, proximity, identification and a sense of belonging – something that, in South Africa, he has always experienced as being critical and riddled with conflict: How can one live in this country, which only shed its colonial heritage relatively recently, and which is plagued by racism and a growing chasm between rich and poor? Hugo shot photos at home, in townships and at historical sites, taking portraits of his pregnant wife, of domestic servants and of homeless people. The calm and clearly composed shots show beauty and ugliness, wealth and poverty, private and public, historical and topical. Without either idealising or dramatizing the subject matter, they paint a portrait of the complex society in South Africa today. This is because any notion of harmony in the “Rainbow Nation” is wishful thinking. Even twenty years after the end of apartheid, black and white South Africans are still very much divided. In the series of 94 platinum prints There Is A Place in Hell for Me and My Friends (2011-2012), Pieter Hugo explores the supposed differences between skin colours. To do so, he took portraits of himself and South African friends. The close-ups, generally in the form of frontal head and shoulder portraits, were digitally processed afterwards. The image manipulation, whereby the colour channels were translated into grey tones, emphasise the pigmentation of the skin, using UV irradiation to render visible skin damage and small blood vessels directly beneath the skin. The results are quite astounding: on these photographs, all people are coloured. There is no longer a difference between “white” and “black” skin, but rather a variety of individual shades. The portraits show the powerful presence of each individual and, at the same time, the fragility of all people and the softness and utter vulnerability of their outer shell. With his various photo series, Pieter Hugo has put together an impressive body of work in the space of just a few years. Through this intense perception of corporeality, he captures the complexity and inconsistency of society. Constants in his work include seriousness, neutrality and an underlying respect for his protagonists, whose dignity always remains intact. In this regard, his works are comparable with the monumental portrait works of August Sanders, who created a contemporary picture of the Weimar Republic with his large-scale cycle “Menschen des 20. Jahrhunderts” (People of the 20th Century).Source: Priska Pasquer
Charles Scowen
United Kingdom
1852 | † 1948
Charles Thomas Scowen (11 March 1852 – 24 November 1948) was a British photographer during the nineteenth century. He was active as a photographer from 1871 to 1890, working in Sri Lanka and British India in the early 1870s. By 1876 Scowen had established a studio, Scowen & Co, in Kandy and by the 1890s, he had opened a second in Colombo. His work, which included landscapes and portraits of Malay women, is noted for its lighting, technically superior printing, and strong compositional qualities. Scowen's photographs are represented in the collections of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Yale University Art Gallery, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Charles Scowen became a tea planter before retiring and returning to England around the turn of the century. He died in Sudbury, Suffolk, aged 96.Source: Wikipedia Described as the Pearl of the Indian Ocean, the island Ceylon was conquered by the English in 1796 and for many years was at the center of the spice and trade routes. Rich in ivory, cinnamon, coffee, tea, gems, and pearls the island became increasingly accessible during the nineteenth century. Its exotic scenery was well documented by commercial photographers throughout the nineteenth century. One of the most accomplished and successful photographic firms working in Ceylon was Charles T. Scowen and Co. Scowen and his team produced records for the tourist market, as well as for commerce and industry. These documents included images of plantation economies, railroad, native people, architectural city views, and ancient ruins. The photographs are of superior quality, representing the rich beauty and detail found only in an albumen print.Source: Joseph Bellows Gallery
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For more than 25 years, French photographer Patrick Cariou has traveled to places around the globe, documenting people living on the fringes of society. Whether photographing surfers, gypsies, Rastafarians or the rude boys of Kingston, Cariou celebrates those who meet the struggles of life with honor, dignity and joy. Bringing together works from his groundbreaking monographs including Surfers, Yes Rasta, Trenchtown Love and Gypsies, Patrick Cariou: Works 1985–2005 (published by Damiani) takes us on a scenic journey around the world, offering an intimate and captivating look at cultures that distance themselves from the blessings and curses of modernity.
Exclusive Interview with Niko J. Kallianiotis
Niko J. Kallianiotis' Athênai in Search of Home (published by Damiani) presents photos taken in and around Athens, the city in which he grew up. The images reflect the artist's eagerness to assimilate back into a home that feels at once foreign and familiar. Throughout the years the city and the surrounding territories have experienced their share of socio-economic struggles and topographic transformations that have altered its identity. The city of Athens in Kallianiotis' photographs is elliptically delineated as a vibrant environment that binds together luxury and social inequality. The photographer depicts a city in which the temporal and the spatial elements often clash with each other while conducting his research for a home that has changed over the years as much as he did.
Exclusive Interview with Ave Pildas
My new book STAR STRUCK focuses on the people and places of Hollywood Boulevard. Soon after I moved to Los Angeles in the '70s, I started shooting there. I was working at Capital Records, just a block and a half away, as a one of four art directors. At lunchtime, we would go out to eat at the Brown Derby, Musso, and Franks, or some other local restaurant, and I got to observe all the activity that was occurring on Hollywood Boulevard. It was amazing and it was fun, even though the location was ''on the turn''.
Exclusive Interview with Elaine Mayes
In The Haight-Ashbury Portraits, 1967-1968 (published by Damiani) during the waning days of the Summer of Love, Elaine Mayes embarked on a set of portraits of youth culture in her neighborhood. Mayes was a young photographer living in San Francisco during the 1960s. She had photographed the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 and, later that year the hippie movement had turned from euphoria to harder drugs, and the Haight had become less of a blissed-out haven for young people seeking a better way of life than a halfway house for runaway teens.
Exclusive Interview with Theophilus Donoghue
A new release, Seventy-thirty (published by Damiani) depicts humanity's various faces and expressions, from metropolitans to migrants, unseen homeless to celebrities such as Robert De Niro, Muhammad Ali, Rene Magritte, Janis Joplin, and Andy Warhol. Steve Schapiro photographs early New York skateboarders while Theophilus Donoghue documents current Colombian breakdancers. Alternately profound and playful, father and son's photographs capture a vast range of human emotions and experiences. For this project, Schapiro selected images from the 60s civil rights movement and, with Donoghue, provided photos from today's Black Lives Matter protests and environmental rallies.
Exlusive Interview with Jessica Todd Harper about her Book Here
Like 17th-century Dutch painters who made otherwise ordinary interior scenes appear charged with meaning, Pennsylvania-based photographer Jessica Todd Harper looks for the value in everyday moments. Her third monograph Here (Published by Damiani) makes use of what is right in front of the artist, Harper shows how our unexamined or even seemingly dull surroundings can sometimes be illuminating
Exclusive Interview with Roger Ballen about his Book Boyhood
In Boyhood (published by Damiani) Roger Ballen's photographs and stories leads us across the continents of Europe, Asia and North America in search of boyhood: boyhood as it is lived in the Himalayas of Nepal, the islands of Indonesia, the provinces of China, the streets of America. Each stunning black-and-white photograph-culled from 15,000 images shot during Ballen's four-year quest-depicts the magic of adolescence revealed in their games, their adventures, their dreams, their Mischief. More of an ode than a documentary work, Ballen's first book is as powerful and current today as it was 43 years ago-a stunning series of timeless images that transcend social and cultural particularities.
Exclusive Interview with Kim Watson
A multi-dimensional artist with decades of experience, Kim Watson has written, filmed, and photographed subjects ranging from the iconic entertainers of our time to the ''invisible'' people of marginalized communities. A highly influential director in music videos' early days, Watson has directed Grammy winners, shot in uniquely remote locations, and written across genres that include advertising, feature films for Hollywood studios such as Universal (Honey), MTV Films, and Warner Brothers, and publishers such as Simon & Schuster. His passionate marriage of art and social justice has been a life-long endeavor, and, in 2020, after consulting on Engagement & Impact for ITVS/PBS, Kim returned to the streets to create TRESPASS, documenting the images and stories of LA's unhoused. TRESPASS exhibited at The BAG (Bestor Architecture Gallery) in Silver Lake, Los Angeles, September 17, 2022 – October 11, 2022.
Exclusive Interview with Julia Dean, Founder of the L.A. Project
Julia Dean, Founder of the Los Angeles Center of Photography, and its executive director for twenty-two years, began The L.A. Project in 2021. A native Nebraskan, Julia has long sought to create a special project where love for her adopted L.A., and her passion for documentary photography can be shared on a grander scale.
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