The families that hired the services of the nanny Vivian Maier, only saw in her a somewhat eccentric woman, someone who took great care of her privacy.
However, they did not imagine that she was an incredibly talented photographer whose work would be recognized decades later almost by accident.
Vivian Mayer: The accidental discovery of your photographic material
The discovery happened in late 2007 when the young real estate agent, John Maloof, bought from an auction house an assortment of boxes in which he hoped to find some historical photographs of a book on Portage Park in black and white of the decades of 50 and 60. After paying $ 400 he became the creditor of the boxes and went to his house to analyze the goods he had acquired. When opening the boxes, Maloof did not find the photographs of Portage Park, however, he found about 30,000 negatives.
Although the young agent knew nothing about photography, he began to look at the negatives, scanned some of them on his computer and the images of the anonymous photographer captured his attention.
Maloof felt mobilized, he really wanted to know who the mysterious photographer was, so he contacted the auction house where he had acquired the negatives and there informed him that these objects were the property of an old woman who had recently died.
After continuing to investigate, the young agent discovered that, like him, there were other people who had acquired negatives similar to those he had and bought them all. Maloof took some negatives from Vivian Maier and commercialized them on ebay.
Who was the anonymous photographer ?: Vivian Maier
To his surprise, some of them came to sell up to $ 80, which allowed him to understand that he had found something special, so he was determined to discover who was the mysterious author of the photographs.
At the end of 2009, almost two years after having acquired the first box of negatives, Maloof found in the bottom of one of the boxes an envelope of a photographic laboratory.
The same had a name written: Vivian Maier.
After finding this name decided to google it and found the news of the death of the native woman of France and who lived in Chicago for 50 years, dying at 83 years of age. Done this discovery Maloof created a blog to show the work of the artist: www.vivianmaier.com which she linked to a Flickr account where she joined a flaneur group posting the photos with the question “What do I do with this?”.
This discussion went viral and the blog came from all over the world, it was there that Maloof realized that his discovery was much bigger than he thought. And he was right, since its online publication the work Vivian Maier has generated a multitude of followers and fans who admire the works of the anonymous photographer flaneur (‘paseante’, ‘callejero’).
Only in the year of discovery did his photographs appear in newspapers in Italy, Argentina and England. There were exhibitions in Denmark and Norway.
More curious is the fact that some of the images that Maloof obtained had not been seen by anyone other than Vivian herself.
A prolific photographer
Apparently, Maier went with his camera to the most recondite places in the world, there are negatives from Los Angeles, Egypt, Bangkok, Italy and the southwestern United States.
Maloof estimates that he has acquired around 100,000 negatives, while another collector, Jeff Goldstein, would have about 12,000 more negatives in his possession.
Most of the photos of Maier are in black and white and these are photos taken in passing, occasional shots that allowed capturing all kinds of people in images that take action, and that, however, have an underlying seriousness charged of emotion.