|Vivian Dorothea Maier|
Maier in one of several self-portraits she took on the streets of Chicago
February 1, 1926|
New York, U.S.
|Died||April 21, 2009
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Vivian Dorothea Maier (February 1, 1926 – April 21, 2009) was an American amateur street photographer, who was born in New York City, but grew up in France. After returning to the United States, she worked for approximately forty years as a nanny in Chicago, Illinois. During those years, she took more than 100,000 photographs, primarily of people and cityscapes in Chicago, although she traveled and photographed worldwide.
Her photographs remained unknown and mostly undeveloped until they were discovered by a local Chicago historian and collector, John Maloof, in 2007. Following Maier's death, her work began to receive critical acclaim. Her photographs have been exhibited in the U.S., Britain, Germany, Denmark, Norway and Belgium, and have appeared in newspapers and magazines in the U.S., Britain, Germany, Italy, France, and other countries. A book of her photography entitled, Vivian Maier: Street Photographer, was published in 2011.
Personal life 
Many of the details of Maier's life are still being uncovered. Initial impressions about her life indicated that she was born in France, but further researching revealed that she was born in New York, the daughter of Maria Jaussaud and Charles Maier, French and Austrian respectively. Vivian moved between the U.S. and France several times during her childhood, although where in France she lived is unknown. Her father seems to have left the family for unknown reasons by 1930. In the census that year, the head of the household was listed as award-winning portrait photographer Jeanne Bertrand, who knew the founder of the Whitney Museum of American Art.
In 1951, at 25, Maier moved from France to New York, where she worked for some time in a sweatshop. She made her way to the Chicago area's North Shore in 1956 and became a nanny on and off for approximately 40 years, staying with one family for 14 of them. She was, in the accounts of the families for whom she worked, very private, spending her days off walking the streets of Chicago and taking photographs, most often with a Rolleiflex camera.
John Maloof, curator of some of Maier's photographs, summarizes the way the children she nannied would later describe her:
She was a Socialist, a Feminist, a movie critic, and a tell-it-like-it-is type of person. She learned English by going to theaters, which she loved. She wore a men's jacket, men's shoes, and a large hat most of the time. She was constantly taking pictures, which she didn't show anyone.
Between 1959 and 1960, Maier traveled to and photographed in Los Angeles, Manila, Bangkok, Beijing, Egypt, Italy, and the American Southwest. The trip was probably financed by the sale of a family farm in Alsace. For a brief period in the 1970s, Maier worked as a nanny for Phil Donahue's children. As she got older, she collected more boxes of belongings, taking them with her to each new post. At one employer's house, she stored 200 boxes of materials. Most were photographs or negatives, but Maier collected other objects, such as newspapers, and sometimes recorded audiotapes of conversations she had with people she photographed.
Toward the end of her life, Maier may have been homeless for some time. She lived on Social Security and may have had another source of income, but the children she had taken care of in the early 1950s bought her an apartment in the Rogers Park area of Chicago and paid her bills. In 2008, she slipped on ice and hit her head. She did not fully recover and died in 2009, at 83.
Maier's images predominantly depict street scenes in Chicago and New York, in the 1950s and 1960s. An article in The Independent said "the well-to-do shoppers of Chicago stroll and gossip in all their department-store finery before Maier, but the most arresting subjects are those people on the margins of successful, rich America in the 1950s and 1960s: the kids, the black maids, the bums flaked out on shop stoops."
Describing her work, Maloof said "Elderly folk congregating in Chicago’s Old Polish Downtown, garishly dressed dowagers, as well as the persecution of African-Americans, were all fair game for Maier’s lens."
Maier's photographic legacy, in the form of some 100,000 negatives – much still undeveloped – was discovered by a 26-year-old real estate agent, John Maloof, also president of the Jefferson Park Historical Society in Chicago. While working on a book about the Chicago neighborhood of Portage Park, Maloof bought 30,000 prints and negatives from an auction house that had acquired the photographs from a storage locker that had been sold off when Maier was no longer able to pay her fees. After buying the first collection of Maier photographs in 2007, Maloof acquired more from another buyer at the same auction. Maloof, who runs the Maloof Collection, owns 100,000 to 150,000 negatives, more than 3,000 vintage prints, hundreds of rolls of film, home movies, audio tape interviews, original cameras of Maier, documents, and other items, representing roughly 90 percent of Maier's work. Maloof soon discovered Maier's name, but was unable to find out more about her until just after her death, when he found an obituary notice in the Chicago Tribune. Her work was first published on the internet in July 2008 by Ron Slattery, who also had bought some of her work at the auction.
In the spring of 2010, Chicago art collector Jeffrey Goldstein acquired a portion of the Maier collection from one of the original buyers. Since Goldstein's original purchase, his collection has grown to include 15,000 negatives, 1,000 prints, 30 homemade movies, and numerous slides. His collection is known as "Vivian Maier Prints Inc." In 2009, Maloof started to post some of Maier's photographs on a blog, and later he announced his intention to publish a book of Maier's photographs. The book Vivian Maier: Street Photographer was published in November 2011, and a feature-length documentary film about Maier and Maloof's discovery of her work, entitled Finding Vivian Maier, is scheduled for release in 2013.
Printed publications 
- Cahan, Richard and Williams, Michael, Vivian Maier: Out of the Shadows. CityFiles Press, 2012. ISBN 0978545095; ISBN 978-0978545093
- John Maloof, ed. (2011). Vivian Maier: Street Photographer. powerHouse Cultural Entertainment. ISBN 978-1-57687-577-3.
- Finding Vivian Maier, November 18 - December 4, 2010 at The Apartment Gallery (Apartment 02), Oslo, Norway
- March 15 - April 30, 2010 at Bruun's Galleri, Århus, Denmark
- Finding Vivian Maier: Chicago Street Photographer, January 7 - April 3, 2011 at Chicago Cultural Center
- Twinkle, twinkle, little star..., January 27 - April 28, 2011 at Galerie Hilaneh von Kories, Hamburg, Germany
- Vivian Maier, Photographer, April 15 - June 18, 2011 at Russell Bowman Art Advisory, Chicago, Illinois, USA
- Vivian Maier - A Life Uncovered, July 1–24, 2011 at the London Street Photography Festival, London
- Vivian Maier, Photographer, July 18, 2011 - January 31, 2012 at Hearst Gallery, New York
- Vivian Maier - A Life Uncovered, July 29 - September 16, 2011 at Photofusion Gallery, London
- Vivian Maier, Photographer, September 22 - November 12, 2011 at Stephen Cohen Gallery, Los Angeles
- December 15, 2011 - February, 2012 at Steven Kasher Gallery, New York, New York
- December 15, 2011 - January 28, 2012 at Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York
- Vivian Maier - Hosted by Tim Roth, December 17, 2011 - January 28, 2012 at Merry Karnowsky Gallery, Los Angeles
- Vivian Maier - Photographs January 27, 2012 - April 7, 2012 at Jackson Fine Art, Atlanta
- A la recherche de Vivian Maier (In search of Vivian Maier), June 28 to July 3, 2011, Saint-Julien-en-Champsaur; July 5 to August 5, 2011 at the Gap Library, Gap, Hautes-Alpes, France.
- Lo sguardo nascosto (The Hidden Glance), October 1 - November 15, 2012, Brescia, Italy.
- Vivian Maier - 26 April-29 June, 2013, Antwerp Belgium, Gallery51
See also 
- Beck, Katie (January 21, 2011). "Vivian Maier: A life's lost work seen for first time". BBC. Retrieved January 21, 2011.
- "Vivian Maier", Chicago Tonight, broadcast by WTTW, December 22, 2010. Retrieved on January 4, 2011
- "Little Miss Big Shot", The Independent (November 1, 2009). Retrieved on January 4, 2011.
- O'Donnell, Nora (January 2011). "The Life and Work of Street Photographer Vivian Maier", Chicago Magazine. Retrieved on January 4, 2011.
- Houlihan, Mary (January 2, 2011). A developing picture: The story of Vivian Maier , The Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved on January 4, 2011.
- Unfolding the Vivian Maier mystery...", in Vivian Maier - her discovered work, John Maloof's blog for October 22, 2009. Retrieved on Nov. 14, 2009.
- Kotlowitz, Alex (May/June 2011). "The Best Street Photographer You've Never Heard Of". Mother Jones. Retrieved November 11, 2011.
- http://books.google.com/books/about/Vivian_Maier.html?id=Ui_2tgAACAAJ p.5
- Newsletter January 2009 - Number IX, Jefferson Park Historical Society, Founded 2002. Pg.2: "..we celebrated the publishing of a new book, “Portage Park,” authored by JPHS executive board members Dan Pogorzelski and John Maloof.
- Maloof, John (October 2009). Unfolding the Vivian Maier mystery...", in Vivian Maier - Her Discovered Work. Retrieved on November 14, 2009.
- "Maloof Collection".[dubious ]
- Slattery, Ron. (July 2008) "Story", in Bighappyfunhouse. Retrieved on January 11, 2011.
- Vivian Maier Prints Inc."" Vivian Maier Prints Inc. Retrieved July 12, 2011.[dubious ]
- Maloof, John. "Vivian Maier - Her Discovered Work" Curator's blog. Retrieved on January 4, 2011.
- "Book: Vivian Maier - Street Photographer".
- Finding Vivian Maier - a feature length documentary film. Retrieved on July 22, 2011.
- Profetico, Cecilia (October 22, 2009)."Tras una subasta, encuentran 40.000 negativos escondidos en un mueble", Clarín (Buenos Aires) in Spanish; Thorén, Line (November 9, 2009)."Hemlös fotograf slår igenom – efter sin död", Aftonbladet (Stockholm) in Swedish. Retrieved on January 4, 2011.
- "Finding Vivian Maier". The Apartment Gallery. Retrieved 14 December 2012.
- "Vivian Maier Exhibitions & Events".
- "Vivian Maier: Twinkle, twinkle, little star...". Galerie Hilaneh von Kories.
- "Review: Vivian Maier/Russell Bowman Art Advisory".
- "Vivian Maier: A Life Uncovered". London Street Photography Festival.
- "Vivian Maier Exhibitions".
- Roth, Tim. "Tim Roth Twitter Update".
- "Vivian Maier - Jackson Fine Art".
- "Actualités juillet 2011, Anima Gap, le blog".
- "Galleria dell'Incisione - Mostra Vivian Maier".
- "Gallery 51 - Vivian Maier".
- Vivian Maier website by the Maloof Collection
- Vivian Maier Prints Inc. Maier's images from Jeffrey Goldstein's collection
- Vivian Maier, Street Photographer article on Vivian Maier at The Discerning Photographer
- Vivian Maier Facebook Page by the Maloof Collection
- William Meyers, "The Nanny's Secret". Wall Street Journal, January 3, 2012.
- "Vivian Maier: The Unheralded Street Photographer," by David Zax, Smithsonian Magazine, December 2011