Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Vivian Maier.

Vivian Maier was an unbelieavably talented street photographer in Chicago in the 1950s and '60s. Her work went largely undiscovered until recently when the entire collection of her photography - over 100,000 mostly medium format negatives, thousands of prints, and countless undeveloped rolls of film - sold at an auction two years after her death. The keeper of the majority of her treasured portfolio, which he acquired for $400, is only one-tenth of the way done completing the task of scanning and archiving her work. Today, the release of every fresh image on the Web causes a sensation among the growing legion of her admirers.

It's easy to see why. Her photographs are intimate, and mysteriously beckoning as they draw you into the lives of every day Americans. I am completely enthralled by them. I find her bold approach quite empowering.

What is known about Ms. Maier is that she was born in New York in 1926, lived in France (her mother was French) and returned to New York in 1951. Five years later, she moved to Chicago, where she worked for about 40 years as a nanny, principally for families in the North Shore suburbs. On her days off, she wandered the streets of New York and Chicago, most often with a Rolleiflex twin-lens reflex camera. Apparently, she did not share her pictures with others, and many of them she never saw herself as she left behind hundreds of undeveloped rolls.

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