Finding Vivian Maier

In 2007 Chicago real estate agent John Maloof purchased a box of negatives for $380 at an auction. What he discovered inside would rock the photography world – one of the most prolific and gifted street photographers of the 20th c. by the name of Vivian Maier. She had left behind a treasure trove of work in an abandoned storage locker. Two other area collectors Ron Slattery and Jeffrey Goldstein also acquired portions of her work. All immediately recognized it’s value. As word spread of this remarkable discovery, international fame and intrigue soon followed. Who was this woman and why hadn’t anyone heard of her before now?

The details of Miss Maier’s life are almost as fascinating as the photographs themselves. Intensely secretive, she worked as a nanny in Chicago for nearly forty years, sometimes taking her charges along with her on photographic expeditions. She never showed her work to anyone and in spite of leaving behind an enormous body of work (over 100,000 negatives, thousands of prints,  home movies and more) Ms. Maier remains a mystery to this day. In her last years she lived in obscurity with little to no income, supported financially by the children she had cared for in the early 1950s. Ms. Maier died in 2009 at the age of 83. Later this year Mr. Maloof will release a full length documentary about her life and work. This is the official trailer:

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