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Chicago's Best Kept Secret: Vivian Maier

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Vivian Maier is probably the greatest undiscovered artistic street photographer in Chicago's history. Hers is the story of a French woman who came to New York in the 1930's as a young girl. To persist, she earned meager wages in sweatshops while picking up English by attending the theatre.  Eventually, Maier moved to Highland Park where she took a job as a nanny for three children from 1956 - 1972.

In her time off, she would tour Chicago with the camera seen in her photo, snapping what wouldn't be discovered as one of the greatest artistic photographic collections of our time, until her after her passing when accidentally stumbled upon by a Chicago estate agent by the name of John Maloof.

Maier's work is currently on display at the Chicago Cultural Center, through April 3, and her story has been featured in the Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Magazine, The Republica (Italy), The Independent Review (U.K.), Clarin (Argentina), and WTTW's Chicago Tonight, as seen below.

Visit the Chicago Cultural Center to view Maier's collection while it's on display.  Not only will you be among the first to see some of the best artistic street photography of our time, but you will also gain another perspective for our great city's history and culture.

Accolades to Brooke Barrett for bringing this story to my attention, and enriching my own appreciation for this city and its culture.

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2 Comments

SuburbaniteFaker said:

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Wow! Thanks for bringing this great woman photographer to our attention Snob! I had seen part of the video snippet about her on Chicago public tv, but forgot about her American debut show at the Chicago Cultural Center. Her pictures are a rare find and Chicagoans now have a rare opportunity to see her jaw-dropping work before she is recognized and coveted by the rest of the world.

Herb said:

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A friend told me about this because years ago when we worked at the old Kroch's and Brentano's bookstore in Evanston, "Frau Meier" would come in as a regular customer. Her stern demeanor kept us at bay, and only the store manager could effectively deal with her. I watch this video now and have tears in my eyes at how this woman's secret talent is now on display after her death. I can hardly wait to see this exhibit and will be following developments of her work as more comes to light. Reminds me of Henry Darger -- what wonderful work is done so secretly, by loners with no particular social skills; what a way of forging a connection much richer than the rest of us have with all of our socialization!

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