Who is Vivian Maier?
Now considered one of the 20th century's greatest street photographers, Vivian Maier was a mysterious nanny who secretly took over 100,000 photographs that went unseen during her lifetime.
Since buying her work by chance at auction, amateur historian John Maloof has crusaded to put this prolific photographer in the history books. Maier's strange and riveting life and art are revealed through never-before-seen photographs, films, and interviews with dozens who thought they knew her.
Note: attached above is a short video clip and a documentary about Vivian Maier, I encourage you to watch them both!
Most of Maier’s photographs are black and white, and many are casual shots of passers-by caught in transient moments "that nonetheless possess an underlying gravity and emotion".
Maier used a medium-format Rolleiflex, rather than a 35mm camera, which made her pictures have more detail than those of most street photographers.
Photography critic Allan Sekula has suggested that the fact that Maier spent much of her early life in France sharpened her visual appreciation of American cities and society.
Sekula compared her work with the photography of Swiss-born Robert Frank: "I find myself imagining her as a female Robert Frank, without a grant from the Guggenheim, unknown and working as a nanny to get by. I also think she showed the world of women and children in a way that is pretty much unprecedented."
"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 was constantly taking pictures, which she didn't show anyone."
Unfortunately much of Maier's story will never be told. Her whole story was lost when she died in Chicago on April 21, 2009, at the age of 83.
However, the story we know combined with the mystery we don't is some how satisfying.
"She was like a real, live Mary Poppins."