The Westport Arts Center presents Vivian Maier – a Lifetime of Photographs on view from September 15 to November 10, 2017. The exhibition features over seventy color and black & white photos taken by the secretive nanny-photographer during her lifetime.
The opening reception for the exhibition will be held on Friday, September 15 from 6 – 8 p.m. and is free and open to the public.
Vivian Maier’s story has been pieced together only from the images she made and from the handful of facts that have surfaced about her life. For over five decades while she served as a nanny in Chicago and New York, she shot more than 100,000 images, which she kept hidden from the world. Maier captured both revealing self-portraits and casual, unposed images of people in urban America; she was interested in the fringes of society, and had special interest in the poor and the forgotten.
In 2007, two years before Maier’s death, Chicago historic preservationist John Maloof discovered a trove of negatives and undeveloped film in a storage locker he bought at an auction. They revealed a surprising and accomplished artist and a stunning body of work, which Maloof championed and brought to worldwide acclaim.1
“Well, I suppose nothing is meant to last forever. We have to make room for other people. It’s a wheel. You get on, you have to go to the end. And then somebody has the same opportunity to go to the end and so on.” – Vivian Maier2
Maier’s photography has received international recognition, with recent exhibitions at Palazzo Ducale di Genova (Italy), The Center of Art in Tarnow (Poland), and the FoLa Fototeca Latinoamericana in Argentina.
Amanda Innes, Executive Director of the Westport Arts Center stated, “We are very excited to present highlights from Maier’s incredible body of her life’s work. Maier was truly a creative genius who has inspired a new generation of artists, fashion designers and other street photographers.”
Maier’s life is also the subject of an Oscar-nominated film, Finding Vivian Maier, (currently available on Netflix) that will be screened at the Westport Arts Center in October. Parents and children of the families for whom she worked — including talk-show host Phil Donahue — are interviewed as part of the film. Of Maier, Donahue stated, “We recognize her for who she truly was: a brilliant artist hiding out as a nanny. Our nanny.”3
Maier’s photography has also not gone unnoticed by the fashion world. Swiss label Akris’ 2017 pre-Fall collection featured designs that channeled the spirit of the photographer and adapted several of Maier’s visuals as prints. The collection, described as an homage to Maier, celebrates “her eye, her excellent technique, and her unwavering passion to pursue an artist’s life every day,” said Albert Kriemler, creative director of Akris.4
More About Vivian Maier5
An American of French and Austro-Hungarian extraction, Maier (1926 – 2009) bounced between Europe and the United States before coming back to New York City in 1951 where she settled in with a family in South Hampton as a nanny.
Sometime in 1949, while still in France, Vivian began toying with her first photos. Her camera was a modest Kodak Brownie box camera, an amateur camera with only one shutter speed, no focus control, and no aperture dial.
In 1952, Vivian purchased a Rolleiflex camera and stayed with this family for most of her stay in New York until 1956, when she made her final move to the North Shore suburbs of Chicago. Another family would employ Vivian as a nanny for their three boys and would become her closest family for the remainder of her life.
Taking snapshots into the late 1990′s, Maier would leave behind a body of work comprising over 100,000 negatives. Additionally Vivian’s passion for documenting extended to a series of homemade documentary films and audio recordings.
About the Westport Arts Center
The Westport Arts Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to connecting community through the arts, reaches more than 11,000 people annually through outstanding programs in visual arts, arts education, and the performance arts of Chamber music and jazz.
The Westport Arts Center receives philanthropic support from the Katherine and Howard Aibel Foundation; Anthropologie & Co.; Artur and Heida Hermanns Holde Foundation, Inc.; Bernstein Private Wealth Management; Cohen and Wolf, P.C.; Critical Mix; Delamar Southport; Design Within Reach; Dragone Motor Cars; Fairfield County Bank; Fairfield County’s Community Foundation; Fairfield County Hunt Club; 4th Row Films; First County Bank Foundation; GWAY Print Solutions; Hal Prince Music; the Hall Art Foundation; The Hofstetter Baron Group; Hotel Zero Degrees; J.P. Morgan; Land Rover/Jaguar of Fairfield; Moffly Media; Newman’s Own Foundation; Northeast Tent; Random Acts; Rosenkranz Foundation; Serena & Lily; Shack Sackler Foundation; Sontag Advisory LLC; Steven Mancini Salon; Success Printing & Mailing; Teich Gardens; Tito’s Handmade Vodka; Verde Energy USA, Inc.; Wells Fargo Advisors; Westport Now; Westport Resources, a division of United Capital; WPKN and WSHU Public Radio Group. The Westport Arts Center operates with the support of the Department of Economic and Community Development, Office of the Arts, which also receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.
For more information, contact the Westport Arts Center at (203) 222-7070 or www.westportartscenter.org. The Westport Arts Center gallery is open Monday – Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 51 Riverside Avenue, Westport, CT.