“She wore a men’s jacket, men’s shoes, and a large hat most of the time. She was constantly taking pictures, which she didn’t show anyone.”
Vivian Maier was a self-taught street photographer in the 1950s. Her work went undiscovered until 2007, when it was unintentionally purchased at an auction in Chicago, a town where she resided most of her life. Her discovered work includes over 100,000 mostly medium format negatives, thousands of prints, and countless undeveloped rolls of film containing photos that still have yet to be seen by anyone.
Vivian Maier was born in New York City in 1926, but spent her early years living back and forth between the United States and France. She returned to the United States permanently in 1951 and worked initially at a sweatshop in New York City before settling into her life’s career as a nanny in her beloved Chicago, a position she carried out for over forty years. A historian and collector named John Maloof was the man who purchased her photographs at that auction, and has since become the foremost authority on this enigmatic woman. Maloof describes her as such, “She was a socialist, a feminist, a movie critic, and a tell-it-like-it-is type of person. She learned English by going to theaters, which she loved. She wore a men’s jacket, men’s shoes, and a large hat most of the time. She was constantly taking pictures, which she didn’t show anyone”.
Maier’s photographs are technically exquisite, compositionally fascinating, noirish, dramatic, and occasionally very, very funny. You can watch a video here from a Chicago news channel telling a little bit more about this awesome lady – trust us, it’s fascinating.