It seems like Vivan Maier has been all over the place in the media lately– if you haven’t read about her already, she was a Chicago street photographer, perhaps one of the best of the 20th century, who was completely unknown until very very recently. Maier’s work was discovered by a local Chicagoan who bought a box of her negatives at an auction in hopes of finding images for a book he was working on. As he started cataloging her work (over 30,000 images including negatives, prints, 8mm movies and even rolls and rolls of undeveloped film!), he realized that what he’d stumbled on was something big.
Maier was apparently born in New York, grew up in France and moved to Chicago in 1951. She worked as a nanny for families on the North Shore for most of her life, and spent her days off photographing people on the streets of Chicago. A big show of her work is opening this month at the Chicago Cultural Center, the first exhibition of her work in the U.S., and her story seems to be creating buzz everywhere. I’ve come across stories about her in the Sun-Times, Chicago Tonight, and the Etsy blog, among other places, as well as the original blog set up by those cataloging her photos. There’s also now a Kickstarter page to help fund production of a documentary about Maier and the discovery of her work– definitely a movie I’d go see!
It’s so amazing that discoveries like Maier’s work languishing in a trunk somewhere can still be made, isn’t it? I’ve always been drawn to street photographers and really love the peek into a Chicago of the past that Maier’s work offers. Below are a few lovely examples of her photographs–
All photos from VivanMaier.com