Unique Auction Is First to Feature Prints Made By Vivian Maier Herself

A self portrait taken in a mirror.

An upcoming Vivian Maier auction will offer up a rarity for the late photographer: images printed over her lifetime.

Though Maier was a prolific photographer taking upwards of 100,000 images, much of her work was only discovered after her death. Further, this primarily consisted of negatives rather than photographs she already had printed. This makes Heritage’s May 2nd single artist auction, Vivian Maier Photographs: A Singular Vision, so unique. It’s also the first auction of Maier’s work to offer images the late photographer printed.

A two little girls in black and white.

A self portrait taken amid still life.

“This auction is the first of its kind, focused exclusively on Maier and solely offering her vintage work,” explains Sarahjane Blum, Heritage Auctions’ Director of Illustration Art.

“Offering selections from the collection of Ron Slattery — one of the original collectors responsible for bringing Maier’s work into public view — this event features a careful selection of Maier’s vintage prints, negatives, transparencies, and personal ephemera. Maier is not thought to have exhibited or sold her work during her lifetime, which makes the breadth of her vintage work available as part of this auction all the more significant.”

People lay on a beach.

A person's face peeks behind a blanket.

The auction encompasses a wide range of Maier’s repertoire, including portraits, street photography, travel photography, landscapes, abstract work, and self-portraits. The images included in the auction chart the path Maier took as a photographer over her lifetime. The auction also includes 20 large-format prints, which haven’t been seen by the public since the initial sale of her storage locker. No more than 300 of her large-format prints, ones that Maier printed or commissioned for print, are thought to exist, according to Heritage Auctions.

Two beach images.

“These were the photographs that were chosen by her, not for her,” Pamela Bannos, the artist and researcher who wrote the Vivian Maier: A Photographer’s Life and Afterlife, says. “In the case of the enlarged prints, they show her choices and give us a slightly different idea of what she was interested in capturing, perhaps only for herself. This matters because until now collectors have come to know Maier’s works through the editors of her posthumous prints and publications.”

The auction, which includes 131 items listed online, will take place in Dallas on Thursday, May 2. Proxy bidding is open until that date as well.

Image credits: Heritage Auctions