Vivian Maier: The enigma behind the camera

Vivian Maier was a reclusive character who died in obscurity, leaving behind a vast trove of photographs – some of which are now recognised as masterpieces.

In 2007 amateur historian John Maloof acquired a box of photographs and negatives at a Chicago auction. It was the beginning of an investigation into the life and work of a reclusive photographer that has culminated in his new documentary Finding Vivian Maier.

Maier was an eccentric and sometimes difficult character; the details of her life are difficult to unearth. What is evident is her talent for street photography. Maier’s camera was always with her – in Chicago where she lived for most of her life, in New York City and on her travels throughout the world.  In her lifetime she produced more than 100,000 images, some of which recall the work of great American photographers like Helen Levitt and Robert Frank.

Vivian Maier died in obscurity in 2009, but recent years have seen exhibitions in London, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles as well as the publication of two books of her photographs.

Tom Brook speaks to John Maloof about the enigmatic subject of his new film.

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