Hello Photoion students and photography fans, in today’s Master Of Photography, we’re going to be looking at Vivian Maier.
Maier was born in New York in 1926, but spent much of her childhood in France. It’s no wonder then, that street photography ultimately became her preferred form.
She took up photography just two years before returning to New York in 1951, and during her time there; and later in Chicago, where she spent the rest of her life as a caregiver, she recorded Urban America in a way that is as poignant now, over 60 years later, as it was then.
Despite leaving behind a collection of over 100,000 negatives taken during her lifetime, Maier was a very private and guarded person, hiding her tremendous work from the eyes of others. It wasn’t until a storage locker containing the negatives was sold that the photographs made their way into the hands of another person.
The negatives emerged in 2007 at a thrift store in the Northwest side of Chicago; but it wasn’t until after Maier’s death that the photographs began to gather the attention they deserved.
John Maloof, who had purchased more than 30,000 of Maier’s negatives from the storage locker, published the images online after seeing Maier’s name in her obituary in the Chicago Tribune. The images went viral and thousands of people the world over saw and appreciated Maier’s art, the art which she had kept so hidden for decades.
The images have since gone on to gain mass media attention, be featured in collections and books, and hang in galleries.
Maier’s body of work gives us an unparalleled look into American life during the second half of the twentieth century, capturing the beauty in the mundane of day to day tasks such as shopping or taking the bus.
Maier’s legacy lives on, not just through her work, but through the lives she touched as a caregiver in Chicago. When threatened with eviction, the Gensburg brothers, whom she has cared for as children, found her new accommodation and helped with her expenses.
Be sure to check out the video below ‘Finding Vivian Maier’ to find out more about this incredible artist: