Man Buys 10.000 Undeveloped Negatives At a Local Auction and Discovers One of The Most Important Street Photographers of the Mid 20th Century

Imagine this : perhaps the most important street photographer of the twentieth 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’s work 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.

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John began to develop the negatives and it didn’t take long before he realised that these were no ordinary street snapshots from the 50′s and 60′s — these pictures were a lot more then that. Maier’s work is particularly evocative for those who grew up in the 50′s and 60′s 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.

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1953. New York, NY

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He embarked on a journey to find the legend who took these beautiful pictures and he quickly discovered her name: Vivian Maier.

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Here’s a self-portrait of Vivian

Before he could find her, John discovered  her obituary in the newspaper of 2009 . She slipped on ice, suffered a head injury and never fully recovered. She was 83 years old when she passed away.

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

John has also made ​​a documentary about Vivian and her work  – you can check out the trailer below. Wow! What an incredible story and what an inspiration.


If you loved this post, then be sure to check out:
38 Realistically Colorized Photos From the 1800 and 1900′s That Make the Past Seem Incredibly Real!
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  3. […] Man Buys 10.000 Undeveloped Negatives At a Local Auction and Discovers One of The Most Important Str… – this is a terrific example of how you just don’t know what you’ll find at your local auction.  A historical hobbyist paid $380 for a complete collection of negatives that later turns out to be the work of a relatively unknown, but very important, photographer who lived and worked in the 50’s and 60’s. […]

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