Tag Archives: photographs

Prolific Photographer’s Life’s Work Discovered in Storage Unit

Vivian Maire

When one thinks of New York City as captured in classic Black & White, images come to mind from Andy Warhol, Weegee, and Diane Arbus. But one such creator of monochromatic metropolitan imagery almost went unnoticed and unrecognized forever. Deep within the recesses of a storage unit in Chicago, Illinois, a man named John Maloof discovered over 100,000 film negatives, newspaper clippings, letters, and more from one Ms. Vivian Maier. Maier a French-American, grew up in both New York City and France before becoming a nanny in her adulthood, raising the children of newsmakers such as Phil Donahue. Maier’s unique worldview wasn’t limited to her photography (she utilized square compositions, harsh contrast, and close-ups), children she raised remember her as being a “a feminist, a socialist, and an excellent, caring nanny who shepherded them on trips into the city to see art films and into the countryside to explore and forage for strawberries.” While the discovery of Vivian Maier’s images is not the first major find of its kind in the world of photo history, it certainly is a landmark for images procured from a storage auction. Had the system for auctioning off storage units not been in place in Chicago, a photographic virtuoso would have gone uncelebrated for  good. Maloof and another Maier collector by the name of Jeff Goldstein, own the majority of the photographers assorted works. Maier not only recorded her life in photographs, but also film and voice recordings, amassing some 200 boxes to her name before her entrance into a retirement home. How many numerous photographers never “struck it big” and await their inevitable acknowledgement and entry into the history books of the art world. The hunt is on to locate the next undiscovered Photo master, and you could be the discoverer with constant vigilance and a discerning eye at your next storage auction.

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