Vivian Maier

You might not have ever heard of the name Vivian Maier.  Judging from the era in which these photographs were taken, you probably think you should be somewhat familiar with the name.  But the name isn't familiar because Vivian's incredible collection of photographs were only discovered recently.  

In 2007, John Maloof, a Chicago resident and former real estate agent, bid on a box of negatives at an auction.  Looking for images to use for a book about the history of the neighborhood of Portgage Park, he had no idea that what rested inside the boxes could turn his life upside down.  Inside were thousands of negatives dating back to the 50s.   He has since managed to collect all of her negatives.  With no name attached to the photographs, but dozens of self-portraits, John had no idea whose world he was discovering until 2009, when he finally found a name.  As it turns out, she had died only a few days before he found out who she was.  

As soon as he began posting Vivian's photographs, emails from around the world came pouring in.  Now, exhibitions are popping up around the globe with the first one being in Norway.  The Chicago Cultural Center has Maier's work on display now through April 3.  

* Thank you, Raegan, for sharing this information with me!


stephanie January 20, 2011 at 11:16 AM  

This is such an amazing story, isn't it? It strikes me as really interesting that she never shared her photos. It kind of makes me happy because it shows that she took her pictures for herself and because she loved it, rather than for getting praise or recognition. It was a pure love of taking photos.

jeanette from everton terrace January 20, 2011 at 11:24 AM  

My jaw is on the floor! I majored in photography in college and this work is so inspiring, just gorgeous work. What a story! (not enough exclamation points for how I'm feeling). So interesting that she passed right before he found out her name, it's like she didn't want the attention but then after she was gone, she whispered it in his ear. I'm seriously thinking about getting myself to Chicago to see this exhibit. Loved this post.

jeanette from everton terrace January 20, 2011 at 11:44 AM  

PS - thank you so much for your kind words about our living room remodel. It was indeed a (5 year) labor of love.

la petite coquine January 20, 2011 at 11:55 AM  

I think her work is absolutely stunning, and total agree with Stephanie-her art was her joy, something she enjoyed privately. Such a gorgeous post!

Signe January 20, 2011 at 12:24 PM  

Love her work - it's just the perfect black and whites!
And your tattoo sounds really cool ;)

red-handed January 20, 2011 at 1:06 PM  

She's like Weegee with more light.

vintch January 20, 2011 at 1:07 PM  

oh my goodness. how stunning. thank you for sharing. it almost reminds me of emily dickinson, and how she kept her poems and writing to herself. sometimes the best art is created in private. happy thursday!

hip hip gin gin January 20, 2011 at 1:15 PM  

Goodness, what a story. Gorgeous photos. I'm so sad she didn't live to see how much people love her work. Although everyone is right, it is really sweet that she just did it for herself.

Kirby January 20, 2011 at 1:20 PM  

this is a really cool story.

... I have goose bumbs

Danielle January 20, 2011 at 1:25 PM  

What a fantastic story! My boyrfiend's father is a photographer who loves to develop old negatives. It's so amazing what treasures you can find buried in old boxes at yard sales, antique stores and the like :)

Amber Blue Bird January 20, 2011 at 3:04 PM  

wow, its funny how life works out uh? these photos are brilliant. thanks for sharing them and her story

La Franglaise January 20, 2011 at 3:44 PM  

incredible story! Her photos are amazing. Inspiring even!

Jillian January 20, 2011 at 4:15 PM  

lovely post. that little girl is adorable. xoxo jcd

Anna Walker January 20, 2011 at 6:30 PM  

Oh My Gosh! Seriously! Those pictures are super amazing! I love her work! I am so glad that they recently found all of her photographs! :)

this free bird January 20, 2011 at 8:27 PM  

What a great story. That second picture is beautiful!!

caroline — aka greedy girl January 20, 2011 at 9:09 PM  

such an incredible story... i'd love to see her work in person some day. hopefully the photos will be plenty accessible even after this show ends.

wouldn't you just kill to be john maloof?

ching January 20, 2011 at 11:35 PM  

wooow i really enjoyed the story of this all. im getting goosebumps just looking at these photos.

Hollie January 20, 2011 at 11:44 PM  

how crazy! I love all of these pictures.

Marisa Midori January 21, 2011 at 1:28 AM  

What a cool experience that must be to just bid on old negatives and see what you get! It's such a shame she didn't live long enough to get recognition she deserves! These photos are enchanting.

Farmchick January 21, 2011 at 8:31 AM  

Such beautiful pictures. And, what a great story.

Oh, My Darling January 26, 2011 at 7:35 AM  

Wow! Wonderfully stunning images, and we're all a sucker for a good story behind them, too.

The Closet Digger January 26, 2011 at 11:06 AM  

I'm still amazed by all photos!!
Great post!

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