Today, I stumbled across a photographer who, much like my beloved Vincent Van Gogh, had brilliant work that was never recognized in her lifetime. Her name was Vivian Maier and she was a nanny in Chicago for much of her 83 years.
Her photographs were discovered by a young history buff named John Maloof who bought a box of her negatives at an auction. John was looking for photos of an old Chicago neighborhood for a book he was working on. What he found astonished him. Hundreds and hundreds of her amazing snapshots taken on Chicago city streets and around the world during her many travels alone.
An acutely private person, most of Vivian's work went unseen -- even by her. Among her belongings were hundreds of rolls of undeveloped film. In a modern sort of Dickensian twist the storage locker company that held her stuff put it up for auction when Vivian could no longer pay the rental fees. John bought these as well and has dedicated much of his time to developing, scanning and archiving her amazing work.
If you're lucky enough to be in Chicago or expect to visit, the very first exhibition of her work is going on right now at the Chicago Cultural Center through April 3. There is also a book of her work due out in the fall and a documentary project. I'm totally blown away by her photographs. What do you think?