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Upcoming Exhibition - Vivian Maier: Meaning Without Context

Exhibition Dates: June 23 September 10, 2016

Opening Reception: Thursday, June 23, 5-8pm

Stephen Bulger Gallery is proud to present our third exhibition of photographs by Vivian Maier 1926 - 2009. This exhibition features a selection of images captured in the 1950s through to the mid-1970s, a number of which have never been previously seen.

Vivian Maiers work caught the photography community by surprise, and her story has captured the imagination of people around the world. Unseen during her lifetime, the subsequent discovery of her negatives and dissemination of the photographs have fostered layers of intrigue and have jeopardized the simple enjoyment of her practice. This is our first exhibition since purchasing approximately 15,000 of her black and white negatives from Jeffrey Goldstein in December of 2014, and it strives to display some of her accomplishments without the benefit of knowing her intentions.

Vivian Maier was born in New York City and lived many years in Frances Champsaur Valley, where several generations of her maternal family had lived. As a young woman she became enamoured with photography and would often shoot a full roll of film or more in a day, a habit that she seemingly continued throughout her life. In the early 1950s she returned to New York and later moved to the North Shore of Chicago where she lived until her death in 2009.

Maiers storage lockers held the accumulation of her passion: negatives, prints, camera equipment, and undeveloped film, which would eventually amount to approximately 150,000 unique images. In 2007, Maier ceased payments on five storage lockers, and the contents were sold at auction to Roger Gunderson, a Chicago auctioneer. The items salvaged were subsequently sold at his auction company over a period of several weeks. A number of bidders purchased parts of the collection and Chicago art collector Jeffrey Goldstein acquired his portion from two of the original buyers. Goldsteins collection of about 20,000 negatives, prints, slides, and films, is the source of our collection.

Vivian Maier was, by all accounts, a private person. While she was rarely without her camera, there is little evidence to suggest that she shared her photographs with others. Over the past seven years, the caretakers of her collection have had the joy of sharing her work with the world in exhibitions throughout North America, Europe, and Asia. The public reaction to her work is unprecedented and her reputation as a photographer continues to grow as her work is exhibited and appreciated.

To date, five books of Maiers work have been published, including, Vivian Maier: Eye to Eye written by Richard Cahan and Michael Williams, 2014; and Out of the Shadows, Cahan and Williams, 2012. Ms. Maier has also been the subject of two documentary films: The Vivian Maier Mystery, an award-winning film by the BBC, and Finding Vivian Maier, a film that chronicles her life as well as the instrumental role that Chicago historian John Maloof has played in bringing her work to the publics attention and who owns approximately 90 of her photographic legacy.

Unfortunately the discovery of her unique talent didnt occur until after she died in 2009, and there has been little evidence to surface that offers clues about her intentions for the photographs she made. Genealogical research by Ann Marks has revealed a fascinating outline of the people who surrounded Vivian during her upbringing and offers insight into her private manner. John Maloof owns a letter Vivian wrote to a printer in France whose work she admired. She writes to him and speculates about a partnership to produce her work so that others might enjoy them, but the letter was not received and those plans were never acted upon. We do not know if she approached any curators with her work, but one can assume that that door may well have been closed to someone with so little credibility. Looking through the vintage prints that have been found or released thus far does not present a selection that identifies certain themes as being more of interest than any others to her.

Vivian Maier seems to have been fascinated with most of what she confronted. Her camera was ever present to capture both what she wanted to remember as well as help her frame a moment that touched on more universal themes. Looking through her early work of the late 1940s, she recorded a multitude of everyday events and portraits. Returning to New York in the early 1950s shows a more mature style using 35mm, before she adopted the square format using a twin-lens Rolliflex camera with which she produced many of her best known images. By eventually finding steady employment as a nanny, Vivians schedule was extremely conducive to enabling her to pursue photography with the passion we now witness and revel in.

FREE SATURDAY SCREENINGS:

3:00 PM

June 25

THE VIVIAN MAIER MYSTERY

Dir. Jill Nicholls USA: 2013, 50 min.

July 2

HENRI CARTIER-BRESSON: THE IMPASSIONED EYE

Dir. Heinz Btler Germany: 2003, 72 min.

July 9

IN THE REALMS OF THE UNREAL

Dir. Jessica Yu Japan: 2004, 81 min.

July 16

MODIGLIANI

Dir. Mick Davis France: 2004, 128 min.

July 23

FUR: AN IMAGINARY PORTRAIT OF DIANE ARBUS

Dir. Steven Shainberg Italy: 2006, 122 min.

July 30

BLACK WHITE GRAY: A PORTRAIT OF SAM WAGSTAFF & ROBERT MAPPLETHORPE PATTI SMITH

Dir. James Crump USA: 2007, 77 min.

August 6

THE COOL SCHOOL STORY OF THE FERUS ART GALLERY

Dir. Morgan Neville USA: 2007, 86 min.

August 13

STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE

Dir. Errol Morris Germany: 2008, 116 min.

August 20

EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP

Dir. Banksy USA: 2010, 87 min.

August 27

SMASH HIS CAMERA

Dir. Leon Gast USA: 2010, 87 min.

September 3

SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN

Dir. Malik Bendjelloul UK: 2012, 86 min.

September 10

THE VIVIAN MAIER MYSTERY

Dir. Jill Nicholls USA: 2013, 50 min.


Upcoming Exhibition - Vivian Maier: Meaning Without Context

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