Last year around this time in January, almost to the day, I heard the beautiful story of Vivian Maier in the NY Times Lens section and was enthralled with her photographs and her life story, as well as the effort to make a documentary about her. I even posted a link to the video here.
Surprise, surprise! This morning I read the LA TIMES Arts&Books section and found a feature article on Vivian Maier! And even more joy followed when I read that there is a current and brief exhibit here in Los Angeles at the Merry Karnowsky Gallery. This news made me literally dance in my pijamas. I love women photographers who do street photography along the style of Lola Alvarez Bravo, Tina Modotti, Ruth Orkin, and Margaret Bourke-White.
Vivian Maier was a nanny who lived in Chicago, and in the 1940’s took up street photography in her spare time. She produced the most beautiful black and white street photographs for the rest of her life. She was never published, never discovered, and never famous, until in 2007, when a locker with undeveloped film rolls was auctioned off. A young guy by the name of John Maloof bought it for $400 dollars, for thousands of film rolls, not knowing the story nor images behind it.
Once he saw the images, he realized the treasure he had, and started researching her life, only to find out she had died a few days prior to buying her rolls of films. ( AAAH! It has all the elements of a wonderful movie, so it’s just lovely and absolutely necessary that they make a documentary about her life!) Afterwards he started a blog, and she was finally introduced to the world, even if she was no longer in it. Imagine that! Her life’s vision would have been unknown but for the guy who bought the film rolls, and yet you know how some things are meant to be. It was her destiny not be Anonymous.