Artists that inspire: Vivian Maier

I’ve started a series about writers this year, where I want to share information about how writers find their profession/calling and when and why and what kind of carrer paths they take and how they later create myths around their initiation as writers. This post would generally fall in the same category, if only the artist concerned was a writer. She was a photographer: Vivian Maier.

I heart about her for the first time a few months ago through a social network… facebook probably. Somebody posted an article with her photos, which grabbed my attention. I googled her and then her biography more than anything grabbed my attention. It is just too fascinating.

Vivian Maier worked as a Nanny for rich people’s kids almost all her life. When she wasn’t living with a stranger’s family, she was traveling the world. On her days off or even together with the kids, she was taking care of, she would wander the streets of Chicago or New York and take pictures with her camera. Apparently, she never left the house without a camera around her neck. While living with on the family’s she had a her own bathroom. That wasn’t so common for house staff at the time, I suppose. We are talking about the 1950s and 1960s. In that bathroom she developed her pictures. When she moved to another family, she didn’t have that possibility any more. So, she didn’t develop her pictures and her film rolls started piling up. She gave them into storage, but later in life had no more income and couldn’t pay the the rent. The boxes full of undeveloped films where auctioned off. The guy, who bought them, made her famous. She has exhibitions all over the world now. She never knew anything about that. She died in 2009. I’m sure, it would have been rather intimidating her.

Yesterday went to see her exhibition at FOAM Amsterdam. It is so intriguing to see this artist, who has never seen her own work of art. Can you image she took all those pictures (about 120,000) and not seeing most of her work? How could she develop as an artist without learning from her own work? Was she only interested in the process of taking the picture rather than the end product?

To see some of her pictures, visit her website.


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