The forgotten Vivian Maier images of America in the 50s-60s

As baby boomers, we have good memories: simpler times, it seems. Well, a man in Chicago found a treasure trove of memories in the form of photographs — something like ten thousand of them. They evoke those good memories … with reminders that the world has changed for both better and worse.

Imagine this: perhaps the most important street photographer of the 20th-Century was a nanny who kept everything to herself. Nobody had ever seen her work and she was a complete unknown until the time of her death. For decades, Vivian Maier’s photography hid in the shadows until decades later — in 2007 — historical hobbyist John Maloof bought a box full of never-developed negatives at a local auction … for $380.

Photographer Vivian Maier. A self-portrait.

Photographer Vivian Maier. A self-portrait.

Maloof began to develop the negatives and it didn’t take long before he realised that these were no ordinary street snapshots from the 50s and 60s. Maier’s photos are particularly evocative for those who grew up in the 50s and 60s because she seemed to stare deep into the soul of the time and preserve the everyday experience of the people. She ventured outside the comfortable homes and picturesque residential neighborhoods of her employers to document all segments of life in and around the big city.

Since then, the work of this mysterious and incredibly talented woman has turned the art world upside down. The pictures have gained international media attention with exhibitions in London, New York, Los Angeles, Oslo, and Hamburg.

Maloof has made ​​a documentary about Vivian and her work -– here’s a video trailer.

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  1. Thanks for sharing. The photographs are amazing and do bring back memories of a time filled with joy and wonder; while also recognizing that it was also a time filled with despair, anger and hurt. But our memories do help to make us who we are today and will become tomorrow.

  2. In their faces I see glimpses of friends and relatives of long ago. I wish I could slip right into one of those beautiful photos.

  3. Does no one care that the photos exhibited were neither selected nor printed by Vivian Maier, yet she is getting all of the credit for what we are seeing of her work in the galleries. Is it ethical for someone to buy her negatives and make a pile of money from producing someone else’s work? I think galleries–as usual–like especially the story: dead photographer, negatives found at a garage sale, nameless finder/photographer printing and exhibiting them in the name of Vivian Meier. If she had tried to get a gallery show (maybe she did) I wonder if galleries would be so interested then as they are now.

    1. Also, I wonder if the writer of the article can provide some evidence for this bold statement: “…perhaps the most important street photographer of the 20th-Century …”

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