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[Page 86]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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.)[Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLC