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If you haven't seen it, you MUST watch the fascinating documentary about her. (Youtube link above)
...female street photographer whose impressive oeuvre was discovered only after she died - and then immediately caused a worldwide sensation. She worked as a professional nanny throughout her life. In her free time, she documented life in large American cities like New York and Chicago, although no one in her immediate circle ever saw the results. She left behind an imposing body of work, consisting of 100,000 negatives. Its quality can be compared to that of famed contemporaries like Joel Sternfeld, Joel Meyerowitz, Elliot Erwitt and Garry Winogrand. She also made countless motion pictures and audio recordings. The exhibition at Foam contains photographic work from the 1950s to 1980s in both black-and-white and colour, as well as films.
Vivian Maier, born in the US to a French mother and Austrian father, had a solitary nature. She lost both of her parents early on, so was forced to become independent at a young age. In 1951 she became a nanny... Those acquainted with her characterised Maier as extremely intelligent, eccentric, curious and a free spirit. She documented all that caught her attention, in photos as well as sound and motion pictures. On the street she was fairly inconspicuous: she wore a hat, a long dress, a wool coat and men's shoes, and she never left the house without a camera around her neck.
She remained single all her life and had no children of her own, but she cared for the children she was looking after like they where her own. The Gensburgs, a well-to-do Chicago family, who she moved in with in 1956, gave Maier her own bathroom, which became her first darkroom. Her photographic work, at first predominately black-and-white, focused on societal subjects: street life, the disadvantaged and emigrants. After the children grew up, in the 1970s Maier was forced to seek work..." http://www.foam.org/visit-foam/calendar/2014-exhibitions/vivian-maier