Saturday, January 8, 2011

Vivian Maier

There's so much on the web these days that sometimes I become a bit numb to all the information and images that I see every day.  But every once in a while, I see something that makes me stop.  And just marvel.  And feel that clenching feeling of awe and delight in my gut.  The story of how Vivian Maier's work came to light is one of those times.

A young Chicago man named John Maloof bought a big box of an unknown woman's photography negatives one day at an antiques auction.  He spent days scanning them and discovered extraordinary photographs by an amateur photographer by the name of Vivian Maier.  He then tracked down the people who took the other boxes of her work and bought those too.  He now has over 100,000 of her images and is spending all his time trying to digitally archive the negatives and spread the word about this amazing work.

There isn't much that is known about her life.  She was born in France, lived in New York and Chicago, a beloved nanny, an outspoken Socialist and feminist and an immensely private person.  She traveled the world in the late 1950s, alone, and took photographs.

John Maloof has a website HERE where he shares some of her work that he uncovers daily.  How like an archaeological dig this whole endeavor is!  And it's amazing that we can follow his progress as he pulls more and more beauty from those dusty negatives and rolls of undeveloped film and more information about this woman who seemed to have been satisfied solely with the act of creating art.  I wonder if she ever tried to apply to art exhibitions?  Did she even want the art world to validate the work that she was doing?  Was she content just to live a life of making?

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