In January, I learned about Vivian Maier, a stellar street photographer — possibly the greatest of the 20th century — whose work had been acquired by historian John Maloof at a furniture and antique auction while researching a book he was writing about Chicago's northwestern side. "From what I know," he said, "the auction house acquired her belongings from her storage locker that was sold off due to delinquent payments. I didn't know what 'street photography' was when I purchased them." After days of looking through her work and developing negatives, Maloof was inspired to pick up photography himself and as he progressed, he began to realize what a talent she was and what an eye she had. The collection Maloof had purchased included more than 100,000 negatives, about 20 to 30,000 were still in undeveloped rolls.
One day after finding her name penciled onto a photo-lab envelope, Maloof decided to google her: he found her obituary printed the day before his search. He learned that she was an American of French and Austro-Hungarian and had worked in Chicago as a nanny in '50s and '60s. Extremely private, she would shoot photos in her free time, but zealously hid them from the eyes of others. Maloof had stumbled upon a goldmine and was determined to champion it and bring it to the public eye.
His massive undertaking has finally come to fruition. Come November, Powerhouse Books will officially release Vivian Maier: Street Photographer ($40) written by John Maloof, presenting Vivian Maier's incredible, unseen body of work for the first time to the public. Concurrent with the release, The Howard Greenberg Gallery in New York City will host an exhibition from Dec. 15 until Jan. 28. Both will mark major events in the renaissance of street photography. Check out this slideshow for a preview of some of the work to be included!