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Vivian Maier: A photographic revelation on view at The Château de Tours
Untitled, Chicago, IL, August, 1976. ©Vivian Maier-Maloof Collection, Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York.

TOURS.- The Château de Tours hosts the exhibition "Vivian Maier: A photographic revelation", from November 9th, 2013 to June 1, 2014, with 120 images printed from the original black and white negatives and color slides, as well as excerpts from films in Super 8 that Maier produced in the Decade of 1960 and 1970. The exhibition, produced by Jeu de Paume, in collaboration with the city of Tours and diChroma photography, is the largest dedicated to Vivian Maier in France. This project, conceived from the collection of John Maloof, with the help of the New York's Howard Greenberg Gallery, is an approach to his work that reveals a way of looking, a poetry and a humanism out of the ordinary.

True self-taught, Vivian Maier (1926-2009) cultivated a keen sense of observation and composition. Born in New York, she spent much of his childhood in France before returning in 1951 to New York, where she began to take its first photographs. In 1956 she moved to Chicago, where she lived until his death in 2009, before his work began to be known. Vivian Maier talent is closely related to important American figures of street photography as Diane Arbus, Lisette Model, Helen Levitt and Garry Winogrand.

The amazing pictures of Vivian Maier were discovered by chance by John Maloof in 2007 at a Chicago auction house. Looking for historical documentation about a neighborhood of the city, this young collector acquired an important lot of photographs, negatives and slides (much of them unrevealed) and films in super 8, from an author then unknown and enigmatic. Discreet and solitary Vivian Maier, in fact, took more than 120,000 images and produced over thirty years a consistent work which had shown to no one, or almost, during her lifetime.

All her life Vivian Maier worked as a nanny. But with her camera hanging from the neck (the first kind a box, then a Rolleiflex and subsequently a Leica), she dedicated her free time to photograph the streets of New York and Chicago. The children she cared for describe her as an open and generous woman, but a little cold. Her images, however, show a great curiosity for the everyday life and a deep attention to the people she crossed on the streets: physiognomies, attitudes, clothing and accessories from fashion in the richest, but also signs of poverty in the most deprived.

If some pictures were taken secretly, others reflect a true encounter with the individuals photographed, front by front or within walking distance. She portrayed with great empathy the homeless and marginalised, thus signing disturbing portraits of an America that was still in a time of economic boom.

Vivian Maier died in anonymity, in April 2009, after being hosted by the Gensburg family, for whom she had worked for almost seventeen years. Much of their property, as well as all his photographic production, had been previously saved in a warehouse and was auctioned off in 2007, to satisfy the debts contracted in life. Her biography has been rebuilt partly through research and interviews conducted after the death by John Maloof and Jeffrey Goldstein, another collector who acquired a significant portion of his work. Her origins Austro-Hungarian and French have been documented, as well as his various trips around Europe, notably in France (mainly through the Valley of Champsaur, in the Alps, where she spent part of his childhood), Asia and the United States. But nobody knows yet the reasons that led her to photography and her career as an anonymous artist.

More than a passion photography appears for her as a necessity, or, even more, like an obsession: accumulated in boxes in every work transfer, there are an impressive amount of films unrevealed for lack of money, as well as her books or newspaper clippings about all kinds of events. Vivian Maier was a self-taught photographer who cultivated a keen sense of observation and composition, managing its goal towards the trivial details found during her walks, describing the strangeness of gestures and the graphical distribution of bodies in space. She also did a series of striking self-portraits, reflections of herself through her reflection over mirrors or shop windows.

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