Finding Vivian Maier

By Dan Clendenin

Finding Vivian Maier (2013)

In the winter of 2007, the photographer John Maloof paid $380 at an auction for a suit case full of photography negatives that he hoped to use for a book project about Chicago. That project never materialized, because ever since then he has been unraveling the mystery of Vivian Maier (1926–2009), an unknown street photographer who took those pictures. Maloof eventually assembled a massive collection of Maier’s work — upwards of 150,000 negatives, home movies, audio tapes, and a trove of personal effects. The critical consensus is unanimous that Maier is one of the most important photographers of her time, even though she never published, or in many cases even developed, her work. A prolific photographer, Maier was also an eccentric recluse, a pathological pack rat, a woman of mystery, and a nanny for forty years on the North Shore of Chicago. The film interviews the now adult children who were under Maier’s care, along with several photography critics. The best part of this movie is seeing Maier’s stunning photos. Today her work has been featured in over forty exhibitions and galleries all over the world. Maloof now oversees the Maloof Collection that claims to control 90% of Maier’s work, a website, books, and this film. Finding Vivian Maier was nominated for an Oscar as Best Documentary Feature Film. I watched this film on Netflix streaming.

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