Born In Flames
I woke up this morning thinking about Vivian Maier, the French-born, Chicago-based nanny whose archive of over 100,000 photos taken mostly in New York and Chicago in the 50s-70s, was auctioned off in 2007 due to nonpayment of storage fees and purchased by real estate agent John Maloof. Stunned by the quality of this complete unknown’s photography, Maloof started a blog to publicize her work, and the world came calling (there’s now a much fancier site at vivianmaier.com). Vivian Maier has now been shown at Steven Kasher Gallery, is the subject of two books, and soon a documentary film. Maier never married and was by most accounts a recluse. Few people besides the families she nannied for even know she took photographs, much less the stunningly sensitive, honest street photos on par with the best of Bresson, Levitt, Frank or Model. She developed her photographs at night when she came home from her nanny job in a darkroom she built in her bathroom, and there’s no evidence that she ever sought to publicize her work. The photography world’s gone nuts over the first batch of photos released by Maloof, and he estimates that he has another 60,000 negatives to process. 
When Maloof purchased her archive in 2007, he was told by the auction house that Maier was sick, and he didn’t want to bother her with questions about her decades-old work. In 2009 he sought Maier again, only to find an obituary that had been placed in the newspaper the day before. The obituary was written by three brothers from a Chicago family she nannied for for many years, and described her as a “free spirit” and “photographer extraordinaire”. The brothers remembered her so fondly that when, in the last years of Maier’s life, they heard that she had become homeless, they paid to move her to a studio apartment, and later a nursing home, and remained in contact wih her through the final years of her life. When Maier died they scattered her ashes in the forest where she’d taken them to pick strawberries.
Maloof continues to process the thousands of rolls of film that Maier could not afford to develop, and his great regret is that he didn’t seek her out in 2007. No one will ever speak with the woman who is proving to be one of the 20th century’s great street photographers about her art.
(via Vivian Maier and All Those Other Undiscovered Photographers | LPV Magazine)

I woke up this morning thinking about Vivian Maier, the French-born, Chicago-based nanny whose archive of over 100,000 photos taken mostly in New York and Chicago in the 50s-70s, was auctioned off in 2007 due to nonpayment of storage fees and purchased by real estate agent John Maloof. Stunned by the quality of this complete unknown’s photography, Maloof started a blog to publicize her work, and the world came calling (there’s now a much fancier site at vivianmaier.com). Vivian Maier has now been shown at Steven Kasher Gallery, is the subject of two books, and soon a documentary film. Maier never married and was by most accounts a recluse. Few people besides the families she nannied for even know she took photographs, much less the stunningly sensitive, honest street photos on par with the best of Bresson, Levitt, Frank or Model. She developed her photographs at night when she came home from her nanny job in a darkroom she built in her bathroom, and there’s no evidence that she ever sought to publicize her work. The photography world’s gone nuts over the first batch of photos released by Maloof, and he estimates that he has another 60,000 negatives to process. 

When Maloof purchased her archive in 2007, he was told by the auction house that Maier was sick, and he didn’t want to bother her with questions about her decades-old work. In 2009 he sought Maier again, only to find an obituary that had been placed in the newspaper the day before. The obituary was written by three brothers from a Chicago family she nannied for for many years, and described her as a “free spirit” and “photographer extraordinaire”. The brothers remembered her so fondly that when, in the last years of Maier’s life, they heard that she had become homeless, they paid to move her to a studio apartment, and later a nursing home, and remained in contact wih her through the final years of her life. When Maier died they scattered her ashes in the forest where she’d taken them to pick strawberries.

Maloof continues to process the thousands of rolls of film that Maier could not afford to develop, and his great regret is that he didn’t seek her out in 2007. No one will ever speak with the woman who is proving to be one of the 20th century’s great street photographers about her art.

(via Vivian Maier and All Those Other Undiscovered Photographers | LPV Magazine)

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    —- Wow. That’s really fucking tragic. I’m actually tearing up here.
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