Rome Trastevere Museum from 17 March till 18 June 2018
The life and work of Vivian Maier are surrounded by an air of mystery that contributes to their fascination. Nanny by trade and photographer by vocation, her camera was her constant companion and capturing images with her Rolleiflex was a compulsion. It was in 2007 that John Maloof, a real estate agent at the time, bought a part of Maier’s archives, previously confiscated for an unpaid debt, at auction. He realised straight away that he had found a precious treasure and from that moment onwards, his search for material by this mysterious photographer was relentless and ultimately, he acquired more than 150,000 negatives and 3,000 prints.
The exhibition boasts 120 black and white photos taken in the 50s and 60s, as well as a selection of others, in colour, that date to the 70s and a few super 8 films that show exactly how Vivian Maier approached her subjects.
With an imposing yet discreet presence and a decisive and intransigent attitude, Vivian Maier photographed images of the cities she lived in – New York and Chicago – revealing an innate curiosity and an eye for details – small, particular and imperfect – as well as children, the elderly and the life that unfolded before her eyes in the streets, the city in general and its inhabitants, in a time of tumultuous social and cultural change. Hers are powerful images, electrifyingly beautiful, that prove her talent as a photographer.
Her photographs were never shown or published during her lifetime, and the vast majority of her rolls of film were never even developed. It is as if Vivian Maier took her pictures purely for her own pleasure.
Looking over her body of work, the number of self-portraits stands out. It is almost as if she wanted to leave a legacy for a public that she had neither wanted nor been able to deal with. Her austere gaze, reflected in windows and puddles, and her long shadow, looming over whatever she was photographing provide the key to drawing closer to this mysterious photographer.
The exhibition allows the public to discover the enigma of an artistthat took a vast number of photographs that she never showed to anyone, but rather kept them as safe as if they were her most precious possession.