Thesis Title: Vivian Maier: The Amateur Photographer
My PhD research will address some key problems in the historiography of the amateur photographer and more specifically, street photography during 60s and 70s America. I will analyse how the amateur photographer; Vivian Maier (1926-2009) rose from obscurity to understand the place of the amateur within the art world.
Maier’s negatives, produced while she was a domestic nanny, are now being developed, exhibited and sold posthumously throughout the world by commercial dealers. Maier did not edit her images, nor — despite the mountain of paper documents found with her pictures — did she leave any written notes concerning them. Yet, she has largely become a recognised public figurehead of street photography. Considering this therefore, the creation of her as street photographer is problematic in that it attempts to forge an image of Maier as a professional photographer alongside her contemporaries without any understanding of Maier’s photographic routine, subject matter and her understanding of the history of photography.
My thesis will situate Maier within the canon of photography and therefore enable a re-evaluation of the amateur photographer and their rise to fame in the internet driven world of commercial photography.
Supervisors and Institution(s):
Dr. Mark Rawlinson, Department of History of Art, University of Nottingham
Dr. Lucy Bradnock, Department of History of Art, University of Nottingham