Installation view "Me" at Ricco/Maresca Gallery. Image courtesy Ricco/Maresca Gallery.
Not to be missed in this grouping is a small selection of black-and-white images by Vivian Maier, a photographer who built her body of work in the 1960s while on the clock as a Chicago nanny. During walks with her young charges, Maier surreptitiously photographed the people and places around her, expertly capturing unusually composed urban scenes in Chicago, New York, and cities worldwide. Her trove of over 100,000 negatives, undeveloped rolls of film, and Super-8 film clips was largely discovered after her death in 2009. Her Self Portrait, Chicago Area, August 1966 (1966), on view here, attests to Maier’s exquisite sense of composition, as well as her sense of humor. She aims her camera at a car and we see her shadowy silhouette reflected on its window, but her image is overshadowed by the more visible subject—a feisty looking cat inside, staring out at the viewer as it sticks its snout out to get fresh air.
Maier’s oblique self-portrait stands in enticing contrast to an intimate circa-1900 selfie by one of photography’s long-recognized masters, Edward Steichen. Bathed in shadow, Steichen strikes an austere pose and deeply thoughtful expression. Composed like a traditional painted portrait, the image reflects Steichen’s roots as a painter and his early painterly approach to photography. Nearby hangs a picture by celebrated American astronaut Buzz Aldrin, immortalizing his pioneering journey in a poignant shot of his footprint beside his large boot on the moon’s surface. The image is as expressive as any of the faces peering out of the photographs nearby.