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Vivian Maier: Street Photographer Hardcover – November 16, 2011

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 136 pages
  • Publisher: powerHouse Books; First Edition edition (November 16, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1576875776
  • ISBN-13: 978-1576875773
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 10.1 x 11.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (172 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,964 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Her work alternately brings to mind Lisette Model, Leon Levinstein, Harry Callahan, Garry Winogrand, Weegee, Helen Levitt and Robert Frank. But the uncracked nut at the core of her mystery is this: Why didn't Vivian Maier show anyone her pictures?"
-Wall Street Journal

"Saved from obscurity, the work of an unknown street photographer is, at last, coming out of the shadows."
-Anthony Mason, CBS News

"An unassuming Chicago baby sitter named Vivian Maier was one of the pioneers of street photography.  But for 60 years, nobody knew it."
-The New York Times Style Magazine

“An undiscovered artist whose photography is now being compared to the giants, a reclusive woman who, in death, is attracting the kind of attention and acclaim she would have shunned in life.”
-The Huffington Post

"Show-cased in the new book Vivian Maier: Street Photographer, out this month from powerHouse-rivet the viewer with the extreme vulnerability of her subjects."
-Vanity Fair

"[Maier] is a gifted visual thinking with a strong sense of self. Through [her] lens, self-shadows and window reflections are deftly composed more about context than the figure at the center"

-American Photo

"A combination of straight forward portraits, mirrored reflections and abstract self-portrayals, the collection...attempts to put a face to the name that's most recently captured the photography world's attention" -The Huffington Post

About the Author

There is still very little known about the life of Vivian Maier. What is known is that she was born in New York in 1926 and worked as a nanny for a family on Chicago’s North Shore during the 50s and 60s. Seemingly without a family of her own, the children she cared for eventually acted as caregivers for Maier herself in the autumn of her life. She took hundreds of thousands of photographs in her lifetime, but never shared them with anyone. Maier lost possession of her art when her storage locker was sold off for non-payment. She passed away in 2009 at the age of 83.

John Maloof is an author and street photographer involved in historic preservation of Chicago’s Northwest Side. He discovered the first negatives of Vivian Maier’s work in 2007 while compiling a book about the history of the neighborhood where he grew up.

Geoff Dyer’s books include But Beautiful (Picador, 2009), Yoga For People Who Can’t Be Bothered To Do It (Vintage, 2004), The Ongoing Moment (Vintage, 2007) winner of the ICP Infinity Award for writing on photography, the novels Paris Trance (Picador, 2010) and Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi (Vintage, 2010), and a collection of essays, Otherwise Known as the Human Condition (Graywolf Press, 2011).

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Customer Reviews

Don't let this hold you back in buying the book.
The photos are generally full page, very clear, and are of the quality that could be framed.
Rick Lilla
Vivian Maier's work discovery is an amazing story.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

142 of 151 people found the following review helpful By Luc Busquin on December 2, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I absolutely love Vivian Maier's photographs. Unfortunately the book is printed very poorly by Asia Pacific Offset in China chosen by powerHouse Book. The halftoning pattern interacts with the original grain of the print or negative to create an ugly effect. The sepia toning is overdone and nauseating. But the biggest problem has to do with the depth of blacks and shadows. I measured the deepest black in most images at a density of 1.6, which isn't really black, more like coffee with cream. What a pitty.

EDIT: increased rating in light of the discussion associated with this review and to take into account the price of the book. The quality is ok for a $26 book but is obviously not the quality found in a $100 book.
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59 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Hilmar on November 25, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was interested in this book when I read the announcement and for the price I couldn't leave it. Today it arrived and tonight I finally had the time to have a good look at the pictures.

Vivian's story is explained elsewhere, so I won't repeat it. I'll just give my impressions of the book.

All pictures appear to be taken with the Rolleiflex, giving square pictures. All pictures have the same size and similar toning, which gives a great consistency throughout the book. The pictures themselves show everyday scenes from a long time ago, from all parts of society. You'll find old people, young kids, homeless people, rich folk, men and women and many different scenes. From the pictures I gather that her style was very unobtrusive, just letting the stories unravel in front of her eyes (and lens) and firing the shutter at the right time. There are quite a few pictures where you see people looking at the camera, but many more where she seems to be a passive observer.

What I love about this book is that the images come across as totally unpretentious, void of the "artsy" side some photographers appear to want to develop. Wonderful, if there's a second book coming out, I can't wait to pre-order it.

The paper and print quality is pretty decent for the price, although some pictures had tiny dots where they shouldn't be. Probably due to the price constraint. It's printed in China, which pushes the price down too I guess. Nothing bad, again, the prints are still very nice and I have more expensive books in my collection that are worse in terms of quality. Don't let this hold you back in buying the book. Amazon has a great return policy anyway.
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105 of 116 people found the following review helpful By Pierce Liu on December 1, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've loved Vivan's work since the day I saw it in The British Photography Journal. I was excited about this book for months. I really had expected it to be amazing like what I have seen on the website. The blank pages are fine by me it is similar to Robert Frank's The Americans which also had blank pages in the 1st edition but later were taken out. They give the book room to breath. The reason why I am giving this book a review of a 3 is because the prints are very hard for me to look at. They are not printed in a true black and white they have this disgusting sepia tone to them it is slight enough that it bothers my eyes a terrible amount. I do not feel that these pictures have to have this tacky nostalgia look to them. I hope that someone important reads this and prints a copy in true black and white, or by some chance im the only one who got a sepia book. I ordered a second one for my mother so I hope that It will be truely black and white.
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59 of 69 people found the following review helpful By disaPOINTed on April 2, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Got my copy of Vivian Maier. I will be returning it. I can understand the blank pages and very much appreciate Maloof's herculean efforts to get out Maier's work. Unfortunately, I do not see why the creators of this book changed the colors of the photographs. They are not true black and white and do not come close to the color quality of photographs I have seen on the web. The blacks are bleached out and the silvers are bland. All of it screaming WRONG WRONG WRONG.

Vivian Maier deserves a true photography book not some cheapened compilation. I'd pay more for a book that presents her work in a truer manner. What surprises me is that even the four star reviews mention the cruddy prints of this book. Maybe they're satisfied with that. I, for one am not. If I'm going to lay down some cash for a book, it better be something I can appreciate rather than look at with regret that the creators obviously screwed up.

If there is a printing of this book that is not full of sepia and diminished blacks? Do you know which printing it is? There seems to be conflicting information in these reviews about a German printing and the first printing. Please let us know which printing is best so we can avoid the inferior ones.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Jeff Wick on May 12, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Even given the astounding story of Vivian Maier, her brilliant work and the reasonable price of the book, sepia-toned prints would not be satisfactory at all. But my book is from the third printing, and the prints are not sepia; blacks are fully black. The most iconic image of all, and one of my all time favorites, is of a woman so very reminiscent of Marilyn Monroe, walking toward a 1956 Chevrolet. It is blurry due to hand-holding at a slow shutter speed, and perhaps out of focus, but those only add to the appeal. The image in the book delivers the impact, if not the print quality, of the exhibition print I saw a year ago in Chicago. That said, it would be interesting to do a direct comparison by taking the book to another exhibition of Vivian Maier's prints.
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