Vivian Maier and Surrealism

Vivian Maier’s work cannot all be associated with Surrealism but she seemed always open to the possibilities. Playful humour is a definite feature of these five images but some also show the surrealist idea of creating a psychological reaction in the viewer. The photographs of the smouldering chair and the carriage driver both invoke an association with death, and the photo of the sailors in the hall caught in light beams imply ascending to heaven.

I find these images more appealing as models for my own work than the more constructed images of, for example, Man Ray or André Kertész. Although there are many wonderful photographs produced under the influence of Surrealism, I prefer the accidental narrative of these where the scene is obviously real and natural but the implication is not. Since artificially constructed surrealist images are generally only possible in a   controlled studio environment, the fortunate ‘found’ image is much more relevant to street photography anyway.

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