Monday, January 27, 2014

Vivian Maier in Minneapolis

Minneapolis is finally having its first exhibit of Vivian Maier's photographs. Her images — which were never seen, let alone shown, during her lifetime — were discovered as negatives after a storage locker auction.

One person, John Maloof, has acquired about 90 percent of her work, and that's the collection I've generally seen written up or in my visit to the Chicago exhibit. The other 10 percent was acquired by Jeffrey Goldstein and it's selections from that smaller body of work that are on view at the Minneapolis Photo Center through March 1.

Goldstein has a nice assortment of Maier's self portraits, which often involve reflections in objects other than mirrors... well the "strangers on the street" photos that are her hallmark:

As many have noted, one of the most moving aspects of Maier's work is the glimpses they give of past life, unposed, unvarnished, and sometimes unwanted. This young family, hauling boxes, bags, and children, are particularly enigmatic. Are they boarding the bus or have they just gotten off it? Is the man stretching his back after a long ride? Do they live in Chicago or have they just arrived? Their unglamorous weariness is a story in itself.

This photo of three men hanging a gigantic W above a Woolworth's store captured my eye as well. It's not often you get to appreciate the scale of signage, since once it's hung on a building, you see it in comparison to the building and it looks smaller. But the juxtaposition of the W and the man on the sidewalk shows that the letters are close to 6 feet tall.

On the whole, I would say this show is not as compelling as the one at the Chicago Cultural Center, partly because of the hallway exhibit space and partly because it doesn't include three dimensional objects from Maier's life. But it's the exhibit we've got, so hey, all you Twin Cities people — go and see it!

Past posts about Vivian Maier:

Vivian Maier Exhibit in Chicago

Finding Vivian Maier

Vivian Maier Documentary Sneak Peek

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