Vivian Maier created more than 100,000 negatives during her long life. Only a few of those pictures were ever seen by others. Shortly after Maier died in April of 2009, the first large batch of her unseen photographs—gritty with humanity and filled with empathy and beauty—were shown on a web site. Word of the work spread quickly. “The frames are so spontaneous,” said Mary Ellen Mark, one of the most celebrated photographers of our time. “She is just looking at life and capturing moments that are real. So few people know how to shoot like that.”

Vivian Maier: Out of the Shadows is the first attempt to put Maier’s work in context. It is based on the Jeffrey Goldstein Collection, a treasure trove of nearly 20,000 black-and-white negatives, color slides, and vintage prints. When combined with interviews with those who knew the photographer best, a remarkable portrait emerges.

By Richard Cahan and Michael Williams

Hardcover: 288 pages; 105lb paper + flood varnish with over 300 duotone images

ISBN: 9780978545093

Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 9 x 1.25 inches

Shipping Weight: 3.8 pounds

All books signed by the authors!

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Retail: $60.00

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*Starred Review

Excitement over the mysterious “nanny photographer” went viral after a selection of Maier’s commanding black-and-white photographs were displayed online shortly after her death in 2009. Her never-before-seen work was discovered after the contents of her storage lockers were auctioned off because she couldn’t pay the bills. Now the brilliant and intrepid photo reclamation and writing team of Cahan and Williams (The Lost Panoramas, 2011) tell Maier’s deeply moving story. They conferred with everyone they could find who knew Maier and chose 300 galvanizing photographs—most unprinted, many undeveloped—from the

tens of thousands she shot. We learn that Maier, of French and Austrian descent, was born in New York City in 1926, raised in the French Alps, traveled the world with her camera, and settled in a Chicago suburb in 1956. She lived frugally while working as a nanny and caregiver, continually taking pictures of her young charges and their world and of Chicago’s see-it-all streets, composing urban tableaus of

penetrating wit and empathy. Maier was “painfully private,” outspoken, unconventional, gutsy, and compassionate, and her long-secret photographs evince a profound clarity of vision and intent. Cahan and Williams compare Maier to Emily Dickinson, and her life and work do speak to our most cherished sense of what art is and why it matters.

                                               — Donna Seaman 

ArchitectureChicago PLUS

I had the opportunity to read the book over this weekend, and it's an incredibly moving document of the life and work of the unknown "amateur" whose often stunning photographs were discovered only after her death. Looking at Maier's deeply expressive photos, I was reminded how some of them seemed to provide a much more "you are there" feel for the architecture of the city than the more idealized photographs of individual buildings.

     No one would call Vivian Maier an "architectural photographer." The human being is often the primary focus; the architecture a backdrop. Yet, that backdrop seems anything but incidental. Her photographs capture with pungent specificity that sense of place. The built environment is so strongly integrated that it's as if she's captured in a bottle the visceral essence of a city and its architecture at a set moment in time. I'm not sure what what would be an apt comparison - Alban Berg vs. John Cage? If you want to know, "What does it look like," you go to a master like Nick Merrick or Doug Fogelson. If you want to know the far more fundamental, "What was it like?", you go to Vivian Maier.

                                                      —Lynn Becker

WBEZ  Chicago  National Public Radio

This book is fascinating and a revelation. Not only is it beautiful and compelling and haunting, it is a life in photographs…You will never read a more definitive book about Vivian Maier than Out of the Shadows.

                                                       —Rick Kogan


Publisher’s Weekly

Digging through the unprecedented treasure trove of tens of thousands of images taken by Maier, a private street photographer who never shared her work in her lifetime, Cahan and Williams have unearthed a beautiful, haunting collection of a private woman and gifted artist. Maier’s photographs often capture ordinary people caught in public giving intimacies away: an old woman lying on the beach and reacting to a newspaper; two children whispering (kissing?) behind a tennis net; a girl interrupted from her play on a beach; a handsome young man in a dirty coat standing in a doorway, open-mouthed in surprise at the photographer in front of him. .....The collection’s only and forgivable flaw is that of leaving a viewer wanting to see more of Maier’s work.

The Online Photographer

In my recent article on the Vivian Maier exhibition at the Chicago History Museum I noted a forthcoming new book of her work. That book is now shipping. If you're short of time I can summarize it for you in one word: excellent.

    Vivian Maier: Out of the Shadows, in my opinion, presents her work in exactly the correct manner, starting with the book's size and form-factor: it's 9.2 inches square, just like the 6x6-cm square frames from Maier's Rolleiflex. The book is large enough to be a detailed presentation but small enough to be comfortably lap-read. The 275 images are presented on facing pages, one per page, with one in full-bleed and the other inset-bordered with a page number.

    The printing is also spot-on: it's basic black-and-white. No faux toning or other artificial sweeteners or "art-eners." By all accounts and indications Ms. Maier wasn't trying to make art or sentimental mementos. She was catching and recording life's visual fireflies. And that's how the images are presented here.

    The organization of the book also establishes a series of good contextual frameworks for considering the images. Remember that neither the authors nor the owners of Maier's images ever knew her, and that she reportedly left relatively scant personal records with her film. So the authors, Richard Cahan and Michael Williams, have apparently amalgamated their biographical research with notes and dates found with the film to organize the images into chronological or locational groups that represent the when/where/why of Maier's photography. The chapter titles ("Snapshots," "America," "Day," "Maxwell," etc.) may appear nutty, but they serve the material very well.

    It's also worth noting that Cahan and Williams, who are both experienced documentary authors and reporters, have done a lot of basic research to present the fullest biographical portrait of Maier offered to date. We learn of her life in Europe, of her employers' impressions, of the recollections of the children she cared for. We also learn how the collections of Maier's work came into their current ownerships. (The work in this book is from Jeffrey Goldstein's collection.) Through the short essays that preface each section, Cahan and Williams give us as intimate a posthumous portrait of Maier as is probably possible of such a private person.

    I have no idea if there will be another volume of Vivian Maier's work published. Given the reportedly enormous amount of her still-unseen work and the public's apparently strong appetite to see it, I would bet heavily that there will be several future books. But even if this book is the finale, it would feel like a complete overview of Vivian Maier's deeply private and highly talented life and her passion for candid and street photography.

                                             —Kenneth Tanaka

Chicago Tribune

It is possible, thanks to frequent features on such TV programs as "Chicago Tonight," that you might think you know all there is to know about Vivian Maier. She is the North Shore nanny who spent four decades, roughly from the 1950s through the 1990s, wandering the area and taking photos. In life, she kept them to herself. But, following her death in 2009, the photos started to surface and the acclaim began to pour in. In Vivian Maier: Out of the Shadows (City Files, $60), Richard Cahan and Michael Williams have given us the definitive story about this still somewhat mysterious woman. Of course, the book is filled with Maier's work. But the thoughtful and, indeed, heartfelt text manages to enrich the experience of looking at her photos and enables us to see this woman not as mere curiosity but as unforgettable artist.


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