Reviews for Vivian Maier : Out of the Shadows

Booklist Reviews 2012 October #1
*Starred Review* Excitement over the mysterious "nanny photographer" went viral after a selection of Maier's commanding black-and-white photographs were displayed online shortly after her death in 2009. Her never-before-seen work was discovered after the contents of her storage lockers were auctioned off because she couldn't pay the bills. Now the brilliant and intrepid photo reclamation and writing team of Cahan and Williams (The Lost Panoramas, 2011) tell Maier's deeply moving story. They conferred with everyone they could find who knew Maier and chose 300 galvanizing photographs--most unprinted, many undeveloped--from the tens of thousands she shot. We learn that Maier, of French and Austrian descent, was born in New York City in 1926, raised in the French Alps, traveled the world with her camera, and settled in a Chicago suburb in 1956. She lived frugally while working as a nanny and caregiver, continually taking pictures of her young charges and their world and of Chicago's see-it-all streets, composing urban tableaus of penetrating wit and empathy. Maier was "painfully private," outspoken, unconventional, gutsy, and compassionate, and her long-secret photographs evince a profound clarity of vision and intent. Cahan and Williams compare Maier to Emily Dickinson, and her life and work do speak to our most cherished sense of what art is and why it matters. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Library Journal Reviews 2013 January #1

Over the course of several decades, Vivian Maier took more than 100,000 photographs, but only after she died alone and impoverished in 2009 did she become known and her talent recognized. By chance, her photographs, including many rolls of undeveloped film, were found in a storage locker that was sold at auction. When Maier's story and some of her photographs were published online, the world was introduced to the haunting story of a lonely, anonymous photographer who saw the world so vividly. As in the extraordinary Vivian Maier: Street Photographer (PowerHouse Books, 2011), Cahan and Williams (coauthors, The Lost Panoramas: When Chicago Changed its River and the Land Beyond) of this fine book have carefully selected and arranged the images, and while the book includes curious vignettes about this unknown photographer, the collection of brilliant images is the strength of the work. They show that Vivian Maier was a great artist--not simply "the nanny photographer," as some have called her. VERDICT This book will be greatly appreciated by anyone interested in art photography, 20th-century art, and American cultural history. Highly recommended.--Raymond Bial, Urbana, IL

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 October #3

Digging through the unprecedented treasure trove of tens of thousands of images taken by Maier, a private street photographer who never shared her work in her lifetime, Cahan and Williams have unearthed a beautiful, haunting collection of a private woman and gifted artist. Maier's photographs often capture ordinary people caught in public giving intimacies away: an old woman lying on the beach and reacting to a newspaper; two children whispering (kissing?) behind a tennis net; a girl interrupted from her play on a beach; a handsome young man in a dirty coat standing in a doorway, open-mouthed in surprise at the photographer in front of him. This focus changes somewhat in her later pictures, as images without people more frequently arise, though those too have human traces: a scrap of paper from a political flyer nestled on some leaves; tire tracks in melting snow; an empty Coke bottle and a piece of cloth left on a table. Accompanying essays provide vital detail on Maier's life (1926-2009) as a background for her art, though the writing borders on melodrama at times. However, the more than 200 photos carry a beauty that aches. The collection's only and forgivable flaw is that of leaving a viewer wanting to see more of Maier's work. Photos. (Nov.)

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