Beeldbrug episode 7: Floor Wandel and Emma Knol

Left image: Vivian Maier, Chicago, June 1978, Chromogenic print; printed later, 10 x 15 inches (photo: Howard Greenberg Gallery
Right image: Floor Wandel, Blijf lekker liggen, photography, 2020.

In Floor Wandels work nostalgia plays an important role. Old devices and objects, such as an analog phone, are often seen in her photographs, films and installations. Furthermore, Wandel tries to evoke nostalgic feelings through use of color and composition. In these particular photographs, the aforementioned devices are not shown. In the composition you see but a sofa, a yellow pillow and a pair of feet with polkadot socks. Even though the photograph has been taken recently, it looks older. The spectator is perhaps being deceived by the glossy velvet upholstery of the vintage sofa and the bright yellow pillow; materials and colors that represent a different time. The lack of devices could also aid this illusion, since they often give clues about a specific era. There is also a particular mystery in this photograph, which is also being caused by the presence of a pair of legs. Legs are often a motive in Floors work, like in the video Weltschmerz, and contain a certain anonymity [1]. You can not connect a face to the legs, while especially a face could reveal a lot about someone’s personality. This photograph invites the spectator to use their fantasy and connect the image to a person, a time or a tale.


A photographer that also photographed legs is Vivian Maier (1926-2009) [2]. Maier lived a large part of her life in Chicago, where she worked as a nanny but particularly as a photographer. However, she kept the latter well hidden, as her work was only discovered after her death. She made black and white photographs and color photographs of daily life on the street. The photograph above was made in Chicago in the seventies. The beautiful, old car fills the majority of the image. The red, leather car upholstery radiates luxury. The owner of the vehicle is absent, although the daisies on the back seat may give some information about this person. The cheerful yellow of the hearts is in slight contrast with the more serious dark red of the car. The color yellow appears often in Maiers color photographs. A comparable yellow is also to be seen in the form of the pillow on the photograph of Wandel.

Besides the use of color, there are more comparisons to be found between the two works. Objects play a big role in both the work of Maier and Wandel. The red leather and velvet do not differ much in terms of material. Both are glossy and both take us back to a different time. In the case of Maier we can look back with nostalgia to the seventies. With Wandel we can do the same, although her work is an illusion of a certain time. This clarifies perhaps that that era has passed, which gives the work a melancholic feel. Legs without the corresponding body can give the same effect as the flowers on the back seat. Who’s feet are these? Who’s flowers are these? It is a pleasure to take the time for the beautiful images of both Vivian Maier and the young Floor Wandel, and daydream about a different time.

Naast het kleurgebruik zijn er meer overeenkomsten tussen de twee werken te vinden. Zowel in de foto van Maier als van Wandel spelen objecten een grote rol. Qua materiaal verschilt het rode leer niet zo veel van het fluweel, beide glanzen en beide nemen ons mee terug naar een andere tijd. In het geval van Maier kunnen we nostalgisch terugkijken naar de jaren zeventig. Bij Wandel kunnen we hetzelfde doen, al is haar beeld een illusie van een bepaalde tijd. Dat verduidelijkt wellicht dat die tijd voorbij is, wat het werk een melancholischer karakter geeft. Benen zonder het bijbehorende lichaam kunnen hetzelfde effect hebben als de bloemen op de achterbank. Van wie zijn deze voeten? Van wie zijn deze bloemen? Het is een genot om de tijd te nemen voor de prachtige beelden van zowel Vivian Maier als de jonge Floor Wandel, en weg te dromen naar een andere tijd.

 [2] An example of such a work can be found here:

Written by Emma Knol.