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February 21, 2013 / Ginny Banks

Vivian Maier and the Self-Portrait

A riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.

Piecing together Vivian Maier’s life can easily evoke Churchill’s famous quote about the vast land of Tsars and commissars that lay to the east. A person who fit the stereotypical European sensibilities of an independent liberated woman, accent and all, yet born in New York City. Someone who was intensely guarded and private, Vivian could be counted on to feistily preach her own very liberal worldview to anyone who cared to listen, or didn’t. Decidedly unmaterialistic, Vivian would come to amass a group of storage lockers stuffed to the brim with found items, art books, newspaper clippings, home films, as well as political tchotchkes and knick-knacks.

The story of this nanny who has now wowed the world with her photography, and who incidentally recorded some of the most interesting marvels and peculiarities of Urban America in the second half of the twentieth century is seemingly beyond belief. —www.vivianmaier.com/about

These images are a few of her self-portraits where she documented herself in shadows and reflective surfaces. I hope this inspires my students with their current project of portraiture/self-portraiture. Vivian Maier’s work is on view now in Seattle at the Photographic Center Northwest (www.pcnw.org).

55-549 59-1682 894 56-286 self-portrait 1439

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One Comment

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  1. Phantazein Studio / Jun 4 2014 4:41 pm

    She is such a great. I love her work.

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