This spring Foam presents the colourful works of Vivian Maier in the new exhibition Works in Color
Mostly known for her black and white photography, Vivian Maier is an icon in American street photography. A genre mainly dominated by photographers such as Robert Frank, Joel Meyerowitz and Lee Friedlander. Maier’s observant eye as an unknown outsider and as a woman makes her work a significant addition to the canon of photography. This exhibition at Foam focuses on a lesser-known aspect of her work: over 60 colour photographs from the period between 1956 – 1986. Works in Color shows street scenes in Chicago, – the city where Maier lived for much of her life – featuring people, objects, billboards and shop windows. Her work in colour seems altogether playful and tongue in cheek.
Vivian Maier (New York, 1926 – 2009) spent her entire life taking photographs, alongside her work as an au-pair. Her photographic work was not discovered until after her death when a box of negatives was offered for sale at a local auction. Maier spent a large part of her youth in France, giving her an outsider perspective on daily life in the United States. This exhibition follows the previous exhibition Vivian Maier – Street Photographer, which showed her black and white photographic work in 2014 at Foam.
After Maier moved in with a wealthy Chicago family in 1956, she was given her own bathroom which became her first darkroom. After the children grew up in the 1970s, Maier was forced to seek work with other families. As a result, she was no longer able to develop and print her film material, and her film rolls started to pile up. Financial concerns and the absence of a permanent address eventually forced Maier to put aside her cameras and to place her belongings in storage while she tried to keep her head above water. Her photographic archive gradually sank into oblivion, until her belongings were auctioned off to settle debts in 2007. It wasn’t until the archive came into the possession of the American collector John Maloof, who had it further investigated, that the incredible quality of her work was discovered.
The genre of American street photography is dominated by photographers like Robert Frank, Joel Meyerowitz and Lee Friedlander. As a relative outsider (Maier spent much of her youth in France) and as a woman, Maier’s observational approach forms an important complement to the photographic canon. The exhibition is compiled in collaboration with the Howard Greenberg Gallery in New York.
Foam Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam
1 Jun – 13 Sep 2020
1017 DS Amsterdam