I read about this story a couple of weeks ago and I was completely taken aback as much by the sadness of story as by the incredible quantity and quality of the images.
Capturing the daily comings and goings of Chicago from the 1950’s right through to the 1990’s Vivian Maier’s photographs are technical brilliant while also displaying a sublime intimacy that only the greatest of eye and perfect timing can capture. Her images of everyday scenes and celebrities define her as a confident and gifted photographer but her self-portraits expose melancholy and loneliness – a loneliness highlighted by the fact that very few people knew her, fewer still knew of her passion and it would appear that no one at all knew of her talent.
Even based on the incredibly small number of prints and negatives that have been seen and published – I don’t think that there can be any doubt that Vivian Maier was a truly great photographer.
And the saddest thing of all is that this massive treasure trove was discovered by John Maloof (qudos John) only after Vivian passed away in 2009; so she never received any credit or recognition during her lifetime and there are no interviews or articles. Thankfully her massive portfolio of recovered photos and negatives serve at least as a diary of her wanderings through the city and wider afield, and there are a number of eerie audio tapes that might hopefully reveal some insight into her persona – and Maloof and his team are doing a great job in taking care of this legacy.
Now we can all support the uncovering of the Vivian Maier story by contributing towards this project to develop a full-length documentary.