The blog-o-sphere is abuzz with praise for Vivian Maier’s mid-century photographs of public New York and Chicago life.   The photos were taken by a live-in nanny working for wealthy families in Chicago’s north shore.  Her photos, over 100,000 of them, were discovered after her death two years ago.  To my untrained eye, they are gorgeous, interesting, and well-composed.  A fascinating look at another time.  More sociologically, they gracefully depict differences in socioeconomic class. I wonder if Maier, working-class herself, had a special sensitivity to these divides. In any case, I appreciate the texture that the photographs add to an understanding of how people of different classes lived.

Three examples and 14 more after the jump:


A self-portrait:

Visit the website devoted to Maier here.  Photos borrowed from there and Chicago Magazine.  Via Crooked Timber.

Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the co-author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.
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