Vivian Maier: an itinerary from the United States to Champsaur
curated by Enrico Stefanelli
in collaboration with the Association Vivian Maier et le Champsaur
Starting from the materials discovered by John Maloof, the exhibition opens to a new reading of the work of Vivian Maier and allows to investigate the least known part of her biography, related to the maternal homeland. The exhibition presents some of the American vintages and a corpus of photographs from the French period.
Vivian Maier photographed all that it appeared before her, in the United States as well as in Champsaur, a small valley of the French Hautes-Alpes. Her gaze lingered on the other, on the people and the streets, rarely on landscapes.
Vivian Maier (1926-2009) was born in New York from a French mother and an American father. In 1932-1933 she moved with her mother to Champsaur, in France. In 1938 she came back in the US and returned to France only in 1950-1951 to auction a family property that she inherited. During this stay she took her first “French” photographs: covering the region by bicycle she caught the soul of the people who lived there, peasants and children, with the same obsession for documentation and accumulation that characterizes her American production and that represents one of the main keys of her poetry. Back in New York, with the money raised from the sale she bought a Rolleifleix with which she traveled to the United States before settling in Chicago. Here she worked as a nanny for the Ginsburg’s and she gave free rein to her passion for photography, developing the negatives and films in her private bathroom. Between 1959 and 1960 she made a long journey around the world and, as the last stage, che chose the Champsaur Valley where she continued the documentation of the region and its inhabitants moving by bicycle and taking a lot of photographs. In the subsequent years she continued to work as a nanny and to take a lot of photographs, even in color, constituting her huge archive discovered in 2007 by John Maloof.