When Chicago nanny Vivian Maier died in 2009, she left behind 100,000 negatives that no one but she had ever seen. They are now considered some of the best photographs of American urban life ever made.
Vivian Maier (1926 – 2009) was an American street photographer born in New York City. Although born in the U.S., she spent most of her youth in France. Maier returned to the U.S. in 1951 where she took up work as a nanny and care-giver for the rest of her life. In her leisure, she took photographs of the people and architecture of the city. Over the course of five decades, she would ultimately leave over 100,000 negatives, most of them shot in Chicago. Maier would further indulge in her passionate devotion to documenting the world around her through homemade films, recordings and collections, assembling one of the most fascinating windows into American life in the second half of the twentieth century.
To watch a 12 minute film dedicated to the life and work of Vivian Maier, please click here.
Text and compilation copyright 2020 by Michael Simms.