I have recently acquired a magnificent retrospective book of photographs by Vanessa Winship and I urge everyone to give her a good long look. The book published by Fundacion MAPFRE, was coincidental with a retrospective exhibition of her work organized by MAPFRE and taking place in Spain over six months and two venues in 2014.
Her range is wide, at times humorous and playful and wistful, sometimes dark, brooding, rich in pathos and intentionally challenging us to let go and enter the world she's showing us. Her subject matter moves comfortably from intimate portraits, to frames populated by a variety of characters, then to stark empty frames that could at once be landscapes but stretch to a subtly provocative abstraction that's at once recognizable but as the eyes linger there, we are drawn into another reality slightly askew to our own.
I'm at once thrilled, excited to chew and gnaw and swallow images of richly textured, patterned, and graffitied walls, sometimes Siskind-esque in their boldness yet there's a sensitivity that imbues her seeing as well. From the memorial well come gruff ejaculations of wonder and affirmation of the beauty and simplicity of her work, in the voice of my father Lyle. I imagine how much fun it would be to share this with him.
Give Ms. Winship a good hard looking at. It's well worth your time.
Another photographer only recently introduced to us all, her images trapped mostly in negative form and only just rediscovered in an estate sale some few years past, is Vivian Maier. She was from all accounts, at once eccentric, socially awkward, intensely private and shy yet she worked her whole life as a nanny for a multitude of families in the Chicago area. Discover her story for yourself: A good documentary was recently completed, "Finding Vivian Maier" and I believe it airs on pay cable at the present.
In one fell swoop this lost treasure sweeps you up in the richness and intuitive seeing of Ms. Maier. There's a shyness in the way her lens explored her urban vistas born from her own guarded approach to the world and people around her, yet at the same time a powerful unflinching hard look at that world and those people. She engaged with her subjects though I imagine remaining disengaged herself.
I refer to her and her work as previously "lost" to us. Ms. Maier and her work were not forgotten as we were never aware of her. She ascends after death, rapidly gaining a respect and notoriety as an image maker, to dwell among all the greats of her genre of photography as one of its unknown and early progenitors. At once in my opinion surpassing in most ways even Joel Meyerowitz and Gary Winogrand only because now I know someone did it before they did, and in such an unassuming and quiet way.
Admittedly my instant love affair with Ms. Maier's work has resulted in the purchase of several new books of her work, which along with Ms. Winship will long remain un-shelved as I can't seem to get enough.