Fabrik

THE CRITICAL EYE by Phil Tarley

KP Projects Gallery presents Vivian Maier: Photographs from the Maloof Collection. The show will run from July 15th through August 26th, 2017. An Opening Reception will be held on Saturday, July 15th from 7-10pm.

The guilty pleasures of classic photography are epitomized by the work of street photographer Vivian Maier. Never exhibited anywhere until after her death, Maier lived a secret photographic life in the attic of the North Shore Chicago home in which she worked as a nanny. During her spare time she roamed the streets with a black and white square-format, film camera. With an unflinching eye for subject and composition, she recorded the most brilliant, evocative and eloquent photographs of a place and time gone by.

This potent exhibition presents a body of work that is compelling for both its personal viewpoints and for Maier’s masterful photographic craft. Unearthed by John Maloof in 2007 at a local auction house in Chicago, Vivian Maier continues to cultivate notoriety as one of the most iconic photographers of the 20th century. Her body of work spans not only the US, but the globe, shooting more than 100,000 negatives depicting the street life of New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, the American Southwest, as well as destinations as far off as Manila, Bangkok, Beijing, Egypt, and Italy. 

Invested in her bird’s eye view of the people who made industrious cities thrive and pulse for decades, Maier captures the poignant moments of ordinary people and their urban cultural existence. The signage and details within Maier’s purposefully framed stills reveal a country on the verge of social and political upheaval, and serve as records of historic landmarks, and their demolition, as developments were built to replace them.

With an uncanny ability to capture the right frame at exactly the right moment, with elements of lighting, movement and composition all in harmonious balance, Maier’s perceptive instinct is made even more remarkable by the fact that she seldom shot more than one picture of the same image.

Having worked as a nanny for most of her adult life, Maier was described as an intensely private person who kept most of her work hidden under lock and key. She also indulged her passion for documenting the world around her through homemade films, recordings, and collections. At the end of her life, Maier became impoverished, but several children she had cared for pooled their money together and paid for an apartment and other necessities in her later years. Maier died in 2009 at the age of 83, before the extent of her legacy had been fully understood or revealed.

The exhibition will be hosted by actor and photographer Tim Roth, who will be in attendance at the July 15th opening reception with John Maloof who discovered the Maier collection. Be sure to RSVP if you plan to go to the opening night. Maier exhibitions are often mobbed. Her popularity, though well deserved, is quite uncanny. Vivian Maier is a gigantic photographic talent with a sadly romantic back story.

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Phil Tarley is a fellow of the American Film Institute and a member of the Photographic Arts Council. Tarley writes about contemporary art and pop culture and curates photography for the AC Gallery, in Los Angeles. His book, Going Down on Cuba: Notes from an Underground Traveler, is slated for publication by Fabrik Press in 2017.

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