Not a new story but still a spectacular one. How someone who would have been a peer to the likes of Robert Frank, Lee Friedlander, Diane Arbus and Gary Winogrand was able to take over 100,000 pictures in her lifetime and pretty much keep the whole thing a secret is mesmerizing.
Vivian Dorothea Maier (February 1, 1926 – April 21, 2009) was an American amateur street photographer, who was born in New York City but grew up in France. After returning to the United States, she worked for about forty years as a nanny in Chicago, Illinois. During those years, she took about 100,000 photographs, primarily of people and cityscapes in Chicago, although she traveled and photographed worldwide.
Her photographs remained unknown and mostly undeveloped until they were discovered by a local Chicago historian and collector, John Maloof, in 2007. Following Maier’s death, her work began to receive critical acclaim. Her photographs have been exhibited in the US, England, Germany, Denmark, and Norway, and have appeared in newspapers and magazines in the US, England, Germany, Italy, France and other countries. A book of her photography titled Vivian Maier: Street Photographer was published in 2011.
Chicago August 22, 1956
Piecing together Vivian Maier’s life can easily evoke Churchill’s famous quote about the vast land of Tsars and commissars that lay to the east. A person who fit the stereotypical European sensibilities of an independent liberated woman, accent and all, yet born in New York City. Someone who was intensely guarded and private, Vivian could be counted on to feistily preach her own very liberal worldview to anyone who cared to listen, or didn’t. Decidedly unmaterialistic, Vivian would come to amass a group of storage lockers stuffed to the brim with found items, art books, newspaper clippings, home films, as well as political tchotchkes and knick-knacks.”