America from 1940-60 is viewed with finesse and sensitivity by two female photographers.
Les Douches gallery has a way of transporting us to another world. As a former public shower block, this art gallery still has an imprint of its past life. And the past is exactly the subject of the exhibition of Berenice Abbott and Vivian Maier’s work, two photographers who shared the same love for capturing their era.
A well-known photographer during her lifetime, Berenice Abbott distinguished herself by the modern way in which she captured 1940s America. Wide shots of urban landscapes, never seen before shots of the Rockefeller Centre and cinemas from New York to Chicago, her images are both representative of their time and contemporary in their perspective.
The story of Vivian Maier is much more romantic: working as a nanny, she spent her whole life cultivating a deep and secret passion for photography. She accumulated more than 120,000 negatives which she couldn’t afford to have developed. She passed away peacefully and without fanfare in 2009, never having seen the fruits of her labour, which are today considered huge in the history of photography.
Portraits of people on the fringes of society, scenes of urban life, clichés of sixties American life; Vivian Maier’s oeuvre hints at realism and modernity. Her work – which was never posed – reveals a more observational, humanist eye than her contemporaries. In her ability to immortalise the effervescence and atmosphere of her era and the notable modernity of her self-portraits, Vivian Meier is seen as a reference point in history, in much the same way as Robert Doisneau or Diane Arbus.
TRANSLATION: MEGAN CARNEGIE
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