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Finding Vivian Maier

by habituallychic

06 . 23 . 14
I was aware of the photographer Vivian Maier because the publisher of my book Habitually Chic: Creativity at WorkpowerHouse Books has published two books of her work, Vivian Maier: Self-Portraits and Vivian Maier: Street Photographer. I wasn’t aware that her recognition as a photographer only came posthumously after I saw the trailer for the documentary Finding Vivian Maier
Vivian Maier is described as “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.” She was an American who lived in US and Europe before finally settling in New York in 1951, and later Chicago for work. She worked primarily as a nanny and would take photos around the world during her lifetime. She was worked for one family until the children went off to school which allowed her to turn her bathroom into a darkroom and print her photos.  Later as she moved from job to job, the rolls of film and videos piled up and were stored in a warehouse.  When the contents of her space were sold due to non payment, it was the buyer of the trunk that contained her work, John Maloof, who would bring this unknown photographer the recognition she so clearly deserves. 
It’s amazing to me that she was able to capture such wonderful street images and intimate portraits in the time before digital cameras. These images here are just a small sampling of her work that often highlighted the downtrodden and poor in Chicago, New York, and Asia. The prints made of her work were carefully made using archive materials and instructions that she gave in her lifetime and her original process.  The story is so fascinating that I can’t wait to see Finding Vivian Maier when it’s released in France on July 2nd.  

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  1. Coulda shoulda woulda June 23, 2014 | 11:39 am

    I am so delighted you did a piece on her. The BBC did a great documentary last year about her and she was one of those artists not to have been appreciated in her own time. Her work is still so relevant and she was a true artist.

  2. Unknown June 23, 2014 | 5:04 pm

    I saw this documentary about a month ago – a fascinating story! They talked to the families/children who knew her, and it was interesting to hear how her personality emerged through the similarities shared by different people. She was definitely a collector – besides photographs, she collected newspapers, tickets, discarded items, etc. This documentary is definitely worth seeing.

  3. victoria June 23, 2014 | 5:04 pm

    1. She was an awesome photographer.
    2. Go see the Documentary, it is great.
    3. If there is an exhibit or her photographs anywhere close to you, go see it. The pictures are even better close up than on the web-site.

    She is truly a find and is worth appreciating.

  4. Karena Albert June 23, 2014 | 6:41 pm

    An amazing woman and photographer, thank you for the feature Heather!

    The Arts by Karena

  5. Nina Leung June 23, 2014 | 9:20 pm

    Oh I love Vivian Maier. Isn’t she wonderful? I learned about her in the NYT a few years ago when the SFMOMA became interested in doing an exhibit of her work. It’s truly phenomenal! What an incredible peek into an entire era!

  6. Miss Sophisticate June 24, 2014 | 2:04 am

    Vivian Maier’s work is so beautiful, and like you said, so relevant. It’s amazing what she was able to do considering the time in history, her situation, and the technology of the that time. Love her work, so glad you featured it on here!