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In 2009, John Maloof purchased a collection of negatives at a furniture and antiques auction in Chicago for $380. He soon found that he had purchased thousands of photographs taken in cities all over the world. He was amazed at the talent and set out to learn about the photographer. He found her name, Vivian Maier, written on a photo-lab envelope. A search of the name came up with a recent obituary where he learned she had lived in Chicago and worked as a nanny. Maloof came to learn that Vivian Maier’s photography was a secret she kept from everyone who knew her, including her employers and even close friends.
In the years since the initial discovery, Maloof has turned Vivian Maier into a celebrated photographer, with gallery shows, an online portfolio, and a documentary to be released this month. The photos below are all of New York in the 1950s and 60s, but photos from Chicago, Canada, Florida, India, and Europe can be found at Vivian Maier. Find out when the documentary, “Finding Vivian Meier,” is coming to your city here.

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