Hungarian House of Photography – Mai Manó House


“The Street photographer”

Exhibition: September, 20 – November, 25. 2012.

District VI. 20, Nagymező street – Budapest

 +36 1 473 2667

From obscurity, a legend of quality photography was born. The Hungarian House of Photography is proud to present the works of the photography world’s latest sensation, VIVIAN MAIER.

In 2007, an amateur historian John Malo of stumbled upon a box of unmarked and unnamed negatives in a Chicago auction house, and discovered one of the greatest American street photographers of the twentieth century. The legacy of over 2 000 rolls of films, 3 000 prints, and  more than 100 000 negatives, the full extent of which, in fact, Vivian Maier probably never showed  to anyone, has impressed professionals and admirers of photography alike all over the world. With only a few shows in Europe so far and before a grand tour in 2013, a selection of mostly never before displayed 50 fine prints are now exhibited at the Hungarian House of Photography in Budapest, courtesy of the Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York, NY. Vivian Maier was essentially unknown throughout her lifetime. She was born in New York in 1926 to a French mother and an Austro-Hungarian father. She traveled extensively between Europe and the U.S. and, in 1956, she ultimately settled in Chicago where she worked as nanny for more than forty years. For a brief period in the 1970s she worked as a nanny to journalist, Phil Donahue’s children. Towards the end of her life, Maier was supported by the children she had cared for in the early 50s. Unbeknownst to them, one of Maier’s storage lockers (containing her massive group of negatives) was auctioned off due to delinquent payments. She passed away in 2009 at the age of 83. 

With no proper training but an eye for detail, composition and a sense for timing and humanitarian sensitivity, she recorded peculiar moments of urban America in the second half of the twentieth century. Her candid shots of mostly black and whites from the 50’s and 60’s include street scenes, portraits of children and couples, as well as abstract compositions of architectural elements. Continuing her craft into the late 1990′s, she left behind a body of work that, while still being archived and categorized, includes a series of homemade documentary films and audio recordings.  Now, with roughly 90% of the archive reconstructed, her work is part of a renaissance of interest in the art of street photography, echoing legends such as Cartier-Bresson, Airbus, or Frank. The selection presented at the Hungarian House of Photography provides a perfect insight into her ouvre by showcasing works of main subjects: children, women and couples, general cityscapes or street photography, and self-portraits.  

The publication Vivian Maier – Street Photographer is available in the Mai Manó Gallery and Bookstore, while the photographs are also for sale.  In 2007, while working on a definitive history of my neighborhood of Portage Park on the Northwest Side of Chicago, I accidentally stumbled upon the photographic cache of Vivian Maier. The chain of events that this discovery set in motion has since turned the world of street photography, as well as my life, upside down. What began as my personal passion has caught the public eye, and I have now spent the last [four] years preserving and archiving Maier’s vast work, which she had kept secret for over fifty years. Vivian Maier was deeply interested in the world around her. Having picked up photography around 1950, she continued to take snapshots into the late 1990s, ultimately leaving behind a body of work comprising over one hundred thousand negatives. Elderly folk congregating in Chicago’s Old Polish Downtown, garishly dressed dowagers, and the urban African American experience were all fair game for Maier’s lens. Additionally Maier’s vision extended to a series of homemade films and audio recordings. Bits of Americana, the demolition of historic landmarks for new development, the unseen lives of the downtrodden and the destitute, as well as series from some of Chicago’s most cherished sites were all subjects to Maier continuously revisited.  Yet, the combination of Maier’s intense privacy and lack of confidence in her own photographic powers nearly resulted in her collection being consigned to oblivion. If not for an probable set of circumstances, Maier’s iconic images would have been scattered across storage lockers stuffed to  the brim with found items, art books, newspaper clippings, home films, and knickknacks. I have always been fond of a quote by Maier from an audio recording she made where we can hear her philosophize about the meaning of life and death: “We have to make room for other people.  It’s a wheel you get on, you go to the end, and someone else has the same opportunity to go to the end, and so on, and somebody else takes their place. There’s nothing new under the sun.”  – John Maloof, Chicago, 2011 

For more information pls. contact:

This herald news is based upon the source from the Mai Mano House.


Updated:  Aggie Reiter

3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Chris on 23/09/2012 at 07:20

    I heard about this eccentric genius some time ago on a radio interview on the ABC here in Australia….Extraordinary woman…what a coup to be able to display her work, many will be intrigued I’m sure….Thanks for the report…Chris

    • G’day Downunder … I am looking forward to visit the exhibition in the near furture. I always appreciate the good snaps, whether they are taken in the past or in our days. Wishing you a fine week with the blooming daffodils 🙂

  2. Posted by Maria on 30/09/2012 at 04:38

    My spouse and I stumbled over here from a different web address and thought I might check things out. I like what I see so now i am following you. Look forward to looking over your web page repeatedly.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: