Discovering Vivian

I just love flea markets, yardsales, antique auctions and the like. Pondering through mounds of items…

… someone’s trash now another’s treasure.

There is such an air of mystery. You never know what you might stumble upon.

Can you imagine finding a box filled with more than a thousand rolls of undeveloped film and negatives? {Ok, that might happen, if you are super lucky.} Now, imagine that you develop that film only to unveil the work of a fabulous, previously undiscovered Chicago street photographer. {That’s some kind of luck, folks.}

Simply put, that’s how the world came to discover the work of Vivian Maier

All photos courtesy of the John Maloof Collection
This box, filled with more than 100,000 negatives, was put up for auction after being reclaimed from a storage unit due to deliquent payments. John Maloof won the auction and has since spent hours upon countless hours scouring the photos. He naturally wants to learn more about the lady behind the lens.
“I found her name written in pencil on a photo-lab envelope. I decided to ‘Google’ her about a year after I purchased these only to find her obituary placed the day before my search. She passed only a couple of days before that inquiry on her.” – John Maloof
Self Portrait courtesy of the John Maloof Collection

After learning that Vivian had passed away, John continued to search for more information about this fabulous photographer. He has been able to track down a few people that have little by little provided more insight into her mysterious life. He is currently compiling all of that information into a book and a feature length documentary. Click here to watch John’s video about the project.

“Vivian came here from France in the early 1930’s and worked in a sweat shop in New York when she was about 11 or 12. She was not Jewish but a Catholic, or as they said, an anti-Catholic. 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 wore a men’s jacket, men’s shoes and a large hat most of the time. She was constantly taking pictures, which she didn’t show anyone.” – John Maloof

Self Portrait courtesy of the John Maloof Collection

I am completely enthralled by John’s discovery and the teeny bits of information we have about Vivian’s life. Her photos seem to just capture that human element, I visit his blog often to see what new pictures he has posted. I think that all “junkers” dream of a find like this one. It makes me want to jump in the car and hit up a few of my favorite “fleas” this weekend.

If you have some time, visit John’s blog, Vivian Maier – Her Discovered Work. Browse through Vivian’s photos, I’d love to hear which one really grabs your attention. 

Posted 1/28/11, Topic: Blog

  • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
    January 28, 2011 at 10:10 am |

    Such a beautiful story!

  • {Little Green Jar}
    January 28, 2011 at 9:35 pm |

    I want some of these Prints…..

    I LOVE the Dog – Thurs Feb 11
    and I like Dec 26 of the Couple holding hands

    Thank you for finding and sharing these amazing photos!

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