Now I could really see the heart in the work.
Who was this woman? Was she simply a naïf who sprang whole into midcentury American photography, or had she done her fair share of looking at other work? Before writing back to John, I wrote to Colin: “You have to see this work–an unknown woman just landed in the middle of the history of street photography.”
There were tender portraits and exquisite moments of frozen action; there were streetscapes and children at play; there were small details and gestures beautifully seen and framed, as well as photographs of the old, the down-and-out, and the lost souls of Chicago and New York. Above all, there was a fierce intelligence weaving its way throughout the color work.
All this, in color! How courageous, and how invisible! I was sure she didn’t print color, because, who did back then? Which meant that the photographs had stayed hidden in boxes and most likely hadn’t played a big role in her artistic growth, yet they were–and are now–works of value to us who are alive to see her development.
Maier was an early poet of color photography.
Joel Meyerowitz, Preface, Vivian Maier: The Color Work, Harper Design, 2018