The Musée du Luxembourg in Paris has dedicated a magnificent retrospective to the photographer Vivian Maier, from 15 September 2021 to 16 January 2022.

This exhibition was a real surprise for me. Vivian Maier’s humanistic and piercing gaze, with her portraits, plunged me into the portraits of Diego Velázquez who emphasised “respect, truth and dignity for all”.

“The gaze raises the body and every gaze rests in the gaze of the other.” Pascal Quignard, Vie Secrète, 1998, Ed Gallimard

Vivian Maier’s (New York, 1926 – Chicago, 2009) career is atypical but it is nevertheless that of one of the greatest photographers of the 20th century.

It was at the heart of American society, in New York from 1951 and then in Chicago from 1956 onwards, that this children’s governess meticulously observed the urban fabric that already reflected the great social and political changes in its history.

This was the time of the American dream and of overexposed modernity, whose reverse side constitutes the very essence of Vivian Maier’s work.

The exhibition ends with a magnificent message:

“There is something in the human spirit that will survive and prevail, there is a little bright light that burns in the heart of man and will not be extinguished, however dark the world may be” Leo Tolstoy, The Kreutze Sonata, 1889