In 2008, a chance purchase at a local furniture and antiques auction was about to change John Maloof’s life. Of course, he didn’t know that at the time. He had only purchased the box of old photographs on the off chance that it might contain some historic pictures of Portage Park for a book he was co-authoring.
Instead, it contained something much, much more valuable – the stunning work of Vivian Maier, an unknown street photographer who captured the essence and the people of Chicago during the 1950s and 60s.
Discovering exactly who Vivian Maier was, how she developed her extraordinary vision, and introducing her work to the world has been Maloof’s focus ever since.
He started by displaying some of Maier’s work on a blog vivianmaier.com and linked it to Flickr, the online photo sharing website. From there, it didn’t take long for Maier’s work to go viral and gain a fanatical following.
Exhibitions of her photographs were shown in Denmark and Norway last year, and this year the Chicago Cultural Center is hosting a Vivian Maier Exhibition from January to April.
Meanwhile, Maloof, together with Anthony Rydzon, and award-winning Danish documentary film maker, Lars Mortensen, formed ToneLoof Productions, a Chicago based documentary film production company, with the goal of producing a film (and book) based on the discovery of photographer Vivian Maier.
They joined Kickstarter to help fund the project, with a goal of raising $20,000. With 21 days left, over $90,000 has already been donated, well exceeeding their original goal.
Backers are offered a number of different incentives to donate, from receiving one of Vivian Maier’s actual film spools from a roll that has been developed (complete with authenticity paperwork) to a digital download or hard copy DVD of the completed film and a copy of the completed book, depending on the amount donated.
For an in depth look into John Maloof’s amazing discovery, watch this Vivian Maier report from Chicago Tonight.