Eyes of Artists

Vivian Maier

Posted in photographers by Corey Presha on October 16, 2009

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© Vivian Maier
– Just found out about the work of Vivian Maier on Amy Stein’s blog, these types of stories always blow my mind. How could somebody who seemingly spent their life photographing, creating upwards of of 40,000 negatives, not be recognized until someone else buys their negatives at auction? Vivian Maier’s story is even more elusive as there are no relatives or heirs that can be tracked down to try and find some kind of story to her life. The work is incredible, matching the quality of many of street photography’s masters and thanks to John Maloof we are able to view the archive.

I acquired Vivian’s negatives while at a furniture and antique auction. From what I know, the auction house acquired her belongings from her storage locker that was sold off due to delinquent payments. I didn’t know what ‘street photography’ was when I purchased them…

After some researching, I have only little information about Vivian. I cannot find any relatives or heirs after a diligent search.

Central Camera (110 yr old camera shop in Chicago) has encountered Vivian from time to time when she would purchase film while out on the Chicago streets. From what they knew of her, they say she was a Jewish Refugee from wartime France who came to the U.S. in the early 1950’s (some of her earlier work shows New York where she must have resided for some time). They say she was a very “keep your distance from me” type of person but was also outspoken. She loved foreign films and didn’t care much for American films.

Out of the 30-40,000 negatives I have in the collection, about 10-15,000 negatives were still in rolls, undeveloped from the 1960’s-1970’s. I have been successfully developing these rolls. I still have about 600 rolls yet to develop. I must say, it’s very exciting for me. Most of her negatives that were developed in sleeves have the date and location penciled in French (she had poor penmanship).

See more work here.

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