Synopses & Reviews
Presenting her breathtaking photographs alongside interviews with those who knew her best, this volume is the first attempt to put Vivian Maiers work in context and create a moving portrait of her as an artist. Though she created more than 10,000 negatives during her lifetime, only a few of them were ever seen by others. Shortly after her death in 2009, the first group of her unseen photographs — gritty with humanity and filled with empathy and beauty — were shown online. What followed was a firestorm of attention, catapulting Maier from previous obscurity to being labeled as one of the masters of street photography. Her work has appeared in numerous museum exhibits and a feature-length documentary on her life and art has already been planned. Features 275 black and white photos on heavy gloss paper.
"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." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Richard Cahan is a former picture editor for the Chicago Sun-Times
and was the director of CITY 2000. He lives in Skokie, Illinois.
Michael Williams is the author or coauthor of 10 books on Chicago history, including Chicago: City on the Move. He lives in Chicago. They are the coauthors of Edgar Miller and the Hand-Made Home, The Lost Panoramas, and Richard Nickels Chicago.