04 August – 05 September 2015
Vivian Maier was a professional nanny who, unbeknownst to those that knew her, used her spare time to scour the streets of Chicago and New York, using her trusty Rolleiflex, to shoot up to a whole roll of film each day. Unknown in her lifetime, she left an outstanding body of work composed of more than 100,000 negatives and undeveloped roll films.
Her recent ascent from recluse to revered artist is phenomenal, and has become one of the most remarkable stories in the history of photography. Her photographs show her exceptional eye for detail and flair for composition. They are witty and intelligent, and charged with a strong sense of empathy. She took photographs of the downtrodden as well as the well-heeled, of youth and of age. Maier was endlessly inspired by the lives around her.
If it had not been for a chance discovery at a Chicago auction in 2007, the world would still be unaware of her vast oeuvre and undeniable talent. Maier held the accumulation of her passion for photography in storage lockers, as she had no permanent home of her own. Undeveloped film, negatives and prints from her storage locker were auctioned off when Maier fell on hard times later in her life.
John Maloof, an amateur historian, bid blind on a box packed with negatives taken from Maier’s locker. What he found inside would change his life, and the history of photography, forever.
Beetles+Huxley are delighted to present an exhibition of exquisitely hand printed photographs, made from the artist’s original negatives. The show will span some of Maier’s most fascinating photographs, many never seen in London before. The exhibition showcases her street photography alongside her ingenious and intricately staged self-portraits.
Maier died aged 83, before her work was publicly recognised or any of her prints exhibited. Her works are now receiving the international critical acclaim that they deserve. Widely celebrated, her works have been exhibited in New York, Los Angeles, Paris, Moscow, Munich and London. Maier herself is also the subject of two hugely successful and award winning documentary films. Her name now stands alongside those of the other great photographers of the twentieth-century, including Brassai, Walker Evans, and Henri Cartier-Bresson.