Tuesday, 4 January 2011

The extraordinary story of Vivian Maier

Once in a while an extraordinary discovery is made, such as Robert Capa's "Mexican Suitcase". Recently another great photographic masterwork has been uncovered, but the story could not be more intriguing.

In 2008 Chicago resident John Maloof bought a some boxes of old negatives at a clearance sale, and in the process stumbled upon what may in future become regarded as one of the great photographers of the 20th century.

He originally bought them thinking they might be useful for a book project he was working on, but as he began to scan them in he realised he was looking at street photography of the highest calibre, worthy of standing alongside mid-century greats such as Robert Frank and Walker Evans.

Although the 100,000 pictures included several self-portraits of a woman, her identity was a mystery until he finally found a document with her name on it hidden among the negative sleeves. Her name was Vivian Maier, she was completely unknown to the photographic community and and a google search revealed she had died just days before.

Watch this quick news segment to learn more about her, her work and her amazing story:

The first major exhibition of her work opens next month and the Chicago Cultural Centre. I only hope it makes it over to London some day. You can see more of her beautiful work at John Maloof's blog.

All images (c) Vivian Meier / John Maloof


  1. Amazing, and so great that it fell into the hands of someone who realised its value. Good work John.

  2. There are some more of her pictures from the '50s now up at the New York Times photo blog - don't forget to hit 'full screen' before starting the slideshow.


  3. What an amazing story! I cant even imagine taking 100,000 photos on film, the sheer cost of the film must have been enough that she couldnt afford to print them. Its awesome that she was discovered instead of easily throwing those bins of negatives into a dumpster.