, 13. October 2016
Vivian Maier, the Great Unknown Photographer

Street Photography. Vivian Maier

There are always stories about great artists who are finally recognized after their deaths and who mainly had been known so far. The story of the great street photographer Vivian Maier (New York, 1926 - Chicago, 2009) is probably the best example. This story is worth knowing it.

x-working Vivian Maier self portait (c) Vivian Maier/Maloof Collection
Vivian Maier self portait (c) Vivian Maier/Maloof Collection

The artist has spent her life between France and the United States. Vivian, who was of French origin, has left her father and her mother at a young age. She lived under the famous photographer Jeanne Bertrand for many years. Experts claim that her interest in photography grew from this relationship.

Vivian went to New York in 1951, where she spent five year, to move on to Chicago from there, where she worked as a nanny for almost 40 years and where she shooted most of her amazing work. Vivian used each free moment to take pictures: While the children were in school, while she ran errands for the family or just at any free time she had.

For her photographs, she used a Rolleiflex camera. She could not store many film roles, so not that much is left from 40 years. She had only limited living space and a small bathroom for developing the films.

As Vivian got older, she stored her belongings (including photos, films, rolls and 8mm) in a furniture warehouse. When she stopped the payment to the storage, her property was auctioned. The auction way completed in 2007 for a cheap price and ended up in the hands of three collectors. One of them, John Maloof, published her photos online. The publication went viral and the work of Vivian began to have followers.

The work of Maier is certainly exceptional, especially her black and white shootings. Not only the ability to capture unique moments and great beauty, but also the ability to capture the play of light, shadows and shapes bring exceptional expressiveness in her pictures. Surely, she had a natural and extraordinary talent for photography.

It is also noteworthy that many self-portraits show an artist who seems to be in search of her true selves. An artist hidden as a babysitter.

If you want to know more about this extraordinary story, we recommend the documentary "Finding Vivian Maier".

© 2016 – x-working

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