Chicago Street Photographer

self portrait

Vivian Maier's photos have been making their way around the web recently thanks to John Maloof who bought the negatives to her work at an antique auction. This story is particularly interesting because her photos remained unknown and mostly undeveloped until Maloof's discovery - over 100,000 negatives and 3,000 prints. The auction house where Maloof bought Vivian Maier's photos acquired her belongings from her storage locker that was sold off due to delinquent payments. Maloof later found her name written with pencil on an envelope and decided to Google her about a year after he purchased the negatives, only to find her obituary placed the day before his search. She passed away only a couple days before that inquiry on her, leaving so many questions unanswered, and with her not knowing this man she had never met held her life's work and was about to share them with the world.

Vivian's Story Vivian Maier (1929-2009) was a street photographer from the 1950s to 1990s. She's a bit of a mystery, with some contradictory information out there. But here's what's been gathered about her so far: She was born in New York to immigrant parents, spent many years in France before returning to the U.S. where she worked in a sweat shop in New York when she was about 11 or 12, and later worked as a nanny in Chicago for about 40 years. In 1959 she traveled the world alone, where she photographed places like Egypt and Vietnam. She was describe as a tell-it-like-it-is and "keep your distnace from me" type of person, outspoken, a feminist, loved foreign films and learned English by going to theaters, and wore men's jackets and men's shoes most of the time. She was constantly taking pictures, which she didn't show anyone.

If you're in Chicago, Vivian's first U.S. exhibition will be held at the Chicago Cultural Center. Around 80 prints will be on display, including a sample of her color work, and will run 'til April 3rd. There's also a feature length documentary film about her in production now and a book of her work is expected to be released next Fall.

All photos are copyrighted under Maloof Collection, Ltd.

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