08 July 2012

Vivian Maier and the Critics

"We can’t know the full story behind this self-portrait, or behind the many thousands of images left in a storage locker in Chicago. But we can look at the range of Maier’s work and see the tantalizing evidence of artistry and ambition, and we can look at the expression of the woman reflected in the sheet mirror and see her indisputable pleasure. This is no frumpy old bird woman looking at her own pathetic destiny. This is a woman who knows what she wants, who has chosen to do her work free of judgment and commerce, and who is in charge of the scene."
Self-portrait © Vivian Maier

Some time ago I posted very briefly on the death and rediscovery of Vivian Maier; recently my UofR colleague, novelist Joanna Scott, published this smart essay at The Nation on Maier and, especially, Geoff Dyer's dismissive, patronizing interpretation of her work. Scott punctuates her essay with the passage I've lifted above.  As an aside, I think that Scott's assessment of Maier exemplifies nicely the point that David Levi Strauss made recently (link here) regarding the importance of criticism in establishing non-monetary criteria for assessing creative work.

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Blogger Stan B. said...

Art can't possibly be made, or appreciated, by the working class- they serve strictly as tangential subject matter (along with their poorer more exotic bretheren in Third World countries).

10 July, 2012 11:24  

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