The definitive biography that unlocks the remarkable story of Vivian Maier, the nanny who lived secretly as a world-class photographer, featuring nearly 400 of her images, many never seen before, placed for the first time in the context of her life.
Vivian Maier, the photographer nanny whose work was famously discovered in a Chicago storage locker, captured the imagination of the world with her masterful images and mysterious life. Before posthumously skyrocketing to global fame, she had so deeply buried her past that even the families she lived with knew little about her. No one could relay where she was born or raised, if she had parents or siblings, if she enjoyed personal relationships, why she took photographs and why she didn’t share them with others. Now, in this definitive biography, Ann Marks uses her complete access to Vivian’s personal records and archive of 140,000 photographs to reveal the full story of her extraordinary life.
Based on meticulous investigative research, Vivian Maier Developed reveals the story of a woman who fled from a family with a hidden history of illegitimacy, bigamy, parental rejection, substance abuse, violence, and mental illness to live life on her own terms. Left with a limited ability to disclose feelings and form relationships, she expressed herself through photography, creating a secret portfolio of pictures teeming with emotion, authenticity, and humanity. With limitless resilience she knocked down every obstacle in her way, determined to improve her lot in life and that of others by tirelessly advocating for the rights of workers, women, African Americans, and Native Americans. No one knew that behind the detached veneer was a profoundly intelligent, empathetic, and inspired woman—a woman so creatively gifted that her body of work would become one of the greatest photographic discoveries of the century.
About the Author
Ann Marks spent thirty years as a senior executive in large corporations and served as chief marketing officer of Dow Jones/The Wall Street Journal. After retirement, she put her research and analysis skills to use as an amateur genealogist and became inspired to unlock the mysterious life of photographer Vivian Maier. She has dedicated years to studying Maier’s archive of 140,000 images and is an internationally renowned resource on Vivian Maier’s life and work. Her research has been featured in major media outlets, including the Chicago Tribune, The New York Times, and the Associated Press. Marks lives in Manhattan with her husband and three children.
"With the wit and tenacity of a Sherlock, Ann Marks brings the mystery of Vivian Maier's life into vivid focus. By turns illuminating, inspiring, and tragic, her intensely caring and deeply researched biography reveals how Maier developed as a woman and the artist who remains in our minds as an enduring, formidable, and creative force.” — Joel Meyerowitz
“Through her unique research into Vivian Maier's life, Ann Marks has solved key mysteries in which this extraordinary woman's photography has been shrouded.” — Colin Westerbeck, Co-author of Bystander: A History of Street Photography and Former Photography Curator, Chicago Institute of Art
“Ann Marks is the definitive expert on Vivian Maier. Where our documentary leaves off, she picks up. Through her meticulously organized and exhaustive research, Marks paints a complete historical profile of the photographer.” — John Maloof, Director & Producer, Academy Award-nominated “Finding Vivian Maier”
“Working like a forensic detective, Ann Marks breathes life into the elusive Vivian Maier. Her biography brings forth a needed understanding of the artist and better appreciation of her art.” — Jeffrey Goldstein, Original owner of partial Vivian Maier archive
“For anyone fascinated and curious about Vivian Maier, Ann Marks’ book is a must read. Her deep and thorough research yields a complete biography of this woman whose life has been shrouded in mystery.There is nothing else out there that speaks objective truth and foregoes conjecture like this work by Ms. Marks. I've learned more about Vivian Maier than I thought possible.” — Howard Greenberg, Owner, Howard Greenberg Gallery
“Ann Marks has uncovered the true story so that Vivian can finally be honored for the talented and inspiring woman as we know her in the Champsaur.” — Marie Hugues, Presidente de l’association “Vivian Maier et le Champsaur”
"We gave our testimonies to Ann Marks to tell Vivian Maier's story because she is committed to accurately portraying the people and events. No other account has yet described Vivian, her French family, and her life in Champsaur with such detail and accuracy." - — Sylvain and Rosette Jaussaud, family of Vivian Maier
"Compelling and richly detailed, this book sheds new and important light on an intriguing photographer and her singular life. A well-researched and incisive biography of an artist who should be better known." — Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"With the keen eye of a detective and persistence of a genealogist, researcher Marks unravels the complicated story of 'nanny wonder' Vivian Maier (1926–2009), one of the 20th century’s most enigmatic street photographers.... Marks vividly evokes a woman full of both tragic and amusing complexities....In doing so, the author shines a light on the 'intelligence, creativity, [and] passion' behind Maier’s preternatural ability to capture 'the universality of the human condition.' This definitive account will leave readers in awe." — Publishers Weekly, starred review