cover image Vivian Maier Developed: The Untold Story of the Photographer Nanny

Vivian Maier Developed: The Untold Story of the Photographer Nanny

Ann Marks. Atria, $40 (368p) ISBN 978-1-982166-72-4

With the keen eye of a detective and persistence of a genealogist, researcher Marks unravels the complicated story of “nanny wonder” Vivian Maier (1926–2009), one of the 20th century’s most enigmatic street photographers. When Maier’s photographs first came to light in 2007, she quickly became a phenomenon in the art world for her “keen grasp of the serendipitous choreography of daily life,” and, until now, her mysterious personal history. Here, Marks paints the “full picture” of Maier’s life, from a fraught childhood with her single mother in France, to her teenage years in New York City in the 1930s, and, later, her 40-year avocation as a photographer, which she juggled alongside her job as a caregiver for various families (“Vivian had a foot in each world”). Drawing from her extensive access to Maier’s archives, Marks vividly evokes a woman full of both tragic and amusing complexities, who struggled with paranoia and a hoarding disorder, was a tireless civil rights advocate, and had as much of an affinity for photographing moments of “human affection” as she did the “oft-ignored elderly.” In doing so, the author shines a light on the “intelligence, creativity, [and] passion” behind Maier’s preternatural ability to capture “the universality of the human condition.” This definitive account will leave readers in awe. (Dec.)