Imagine this : perhaps the most important street photographer of the twentieth century was a nanny who kept everything to herself. Nobody had ever seen her work and she was a complete unknown until the time of her death. For decades Vivian’s work hid in the shadows until decades later (in 2007), historical hobbyist John Maloof bought a box full of never developed negatives at a local auction for $380.
John began to develop the negatives and it didn’t take long before he realised that these were no ordinary street snapshots from the 50’s and 60’s — these pictures were a lot more then that. Maier’s work is particularly evocative for those who grew up in the 50′s and 60′s because she seemed to stare deep into the soul of the time and preserve the everyday experience of the people. She ventured outside the comfortable homes and picturesque residential neighborhoods of her employers to document all segments of life in and around the big city.
He embarked on a journey to find the legend who took these beautiful pictures and he quickly discovered her name: Vivian Maier.
Before he could find her, John discovered her obituary in the newspaper of 2009 . She slipped on ice, suffered a head injury and never fully recovered. She was 83 years old when she passed away.
Since then, the work of this mysterious and incredibly talented woman has turned the art world upside down. The pictures gained international media attention with exhibitions in London, New York , Los Angeles , Oslo and Hamburg.
John has also made a documentary about Vivien and her work — you can check out the trailer below. Wow! What an incredible story and what an inspiration.