Imagine the most important street photographer of the twentieth century was a nanny who kept everything to herself and never shown her work to anyone, a pure personal collection as you say. Nobody had ever seen her work and she was a complete unknown until the time of her death. For decades Vivian’s work hid in the shadows until decades later (in 2007), historical hobbyist John Maloof bought a box full of never developed negatives at a local auction for $380.
John began to develop the negatives and it didn’t take long before he realized that these were no ordinary street snapshots from the 50’s and 60’s — these pictures were a lot more then that. Maier’s work is particularly evocative for those who grew up in the 50′s and 60′s because she seemed to stare deep into the soul of the time and preserve the everyday experience of the people. She ventured outside the comfortable homes and picturesque residential neighborhoods of her employers to document all segments of life in and around the big city.
He embarked on a journey to find the legend who took these beautiful pictures and he quickly discovered her name: Vivian Maier. Before he could find her, John discovered her obituary in the newspaper of 2009 . She slipped on ice, suffered a head injury and never fully recovered. She was 83 years old when she passed away.
Since then, the work of this mysterious and incredibly talented woman has turned the art world upside down. The pictures gained international media attention with exhibitions in London, New York , Los Angeles , Oslo and Hamburg.
There is also a legal battle going on about who will get the money generated by this great find. Well there are all sorts of people claiming, There are heirs, Then there are people who won the storage unit and find these photographs and then there are some who just wants to earn some on the name of being humanitarian.
I am sure she never had the idea of what happens to her work after she passes away.
John has also made a documentary about Vivian and her work, you can check the trailer below.
R.I.P. Vivian Maier, That’s all we can say.