If a person takes a bathroom selfie and didn’t post it to Instagram, did it really even happen? In the case of Vivian Maier, yes, it did very definitely happen – and well before the insta filters were around.
Vivian Maier is making waves in the photographic community as a brand new talent in the art of street photography and self portraits. Something else worth noting is that she’s not even around to see it! Having passed away in 2009 at the age of 83, Maier had taken over 100,000 photographs and never tried to release or publish them. It wasn’t until John Maloof came into ownership of the storage container that held Vivian’s work in a Chicago auction house, that it was even made known to anyone of her talent.
In her life, Maier was a nanny and a strong independent woman who “didn’t need no man” as they say. She cataloged the streets where she lived in both New York and Chicago, as well as her travels to exotic places like Egypt and South Africa through the lenses of her analog cameras. Vivian led an eccentric but very private life and had no close relatives or relationships throughout her time, despite being like a second mother to the children she looked after. She spent the last of her years in poverty in Chicago and couldn’t afford to process or print her photos so she boxed them up into storage, where they were auctioned off because she could no longer pay for the space. Hence, John Maloof, who at the time was searching for vintage images to create a photo book about his Chicago neighborhood, purchased Maier’s work for a mere $400.
Maloof took careful proceedings to ensure Maier’s photographs would be developed and printed in such a way that she would be pleased, and also created a full-length feature film about his journey, “Finding Vivian Maier”. It is now playing in select theaters around the country.
“The story of this nanny who has now wowed the world with her photography, and who incidentally recorded some of the most interesting marvels and peculiarities of Urban America in the second half of the twentieth century is seemingly beyond belief.”
Images via Vivian Maier
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