Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Vivian Maier to Rise from Obscurity

John Maloof is dedicated to bringing the work of a brilliant street photographer Vivian Maier from the 1950's - 1990's to life. He fortuitously discovered her art at an auction in Chicago where he purchased "over 100,000 mostly medium format negatives, thousands of prints, and a ton of undeveloped rolls of film."

The auction house acquired her belongings from her storage locker that was sold off due to delinquent payments. Maloof didn't know what 'street photography' was when he purchased the mountain of creative work but he has immersed himself in the genre ever since the discovery.

"It took me days to look through all of her work. It inspired me to pick up photography myself. Little by little, as I progressed as a photographer, I would revisit Vivian's negatives and I would "see" more in her work. I bought her same camera and took to the same streets soon to realize how difficult it was to make images of her caliber. I discovered the eye she had for photography through my own practice...."

After some researching, he discovered fragmentary aspects of her life. A camera shop encountered Vivian from time to time when she would purchase film while out on the Chicago streets. From what they knew of her, she was a very "keep your distance from me" type of person but was also outspoken. She loved foreign films and didn't care much for American films.

Out of the more than 100,000 negatives Maloof has in the collection, about 20-30,000 negatives were still in rolls, undeveloped from the 1960's-1970's. He has been successfully developing these rolls. Fortunately most of her negatives that were developed in sleeves have the date and location penciled in.

Maloof with a partner have registered at Kickstarter to raise money for a feature length documentary film. Judging by the number of reviews from the media, critics are delighted by the prospects.

See some beautiful images of her work here.