Managing the archive of a deceased artist can be a challenge, especially if the artist has not specified their wishes before death, written or otherwise. While some high profile (and staggeringly organized) photographers like Richard Avedon left a detailed directive for his Foundation (specifying, for example, that no posthumous prints would be produced from his negatives), most do not, and the family or executor is left to administer the estate based on their best guess as to what the artist would have wanted.
The Vivian Maier archive illustrates the issues that arise when the artist has no history, much less hand, in how her artwork is being reproduced and promoted. As fans of photography, we are exceptionally fortunate to be introduced to such a talent and a treasure trove of stellar imagery. That said, since the artist seems to have never sought out recognition or exhibition of her photographs while she was alive, is this what she would have wanted?
To read more about this, there are several online articles:
The Vivian Maier “Discovery” Is More Complicated Than We Thought on Hyperallergic
Vivian Maier Documentary Sparks Collector Battle at artnet news.
and the latest… The Legal Battle Over Vivien Maier’s Work at the New York Times