Vivian Maier: Master street photographer - exhibition at Chicago History Museum

Until her death, April 21, 2009, American amateur street photographer Vivian Maier was an undiscovered master photographer. Vivian Maier was born in New York February 1, 1926; she grew up in France and spent her adult years in the United States. She worked as a nanny in Chicago for about forty years. During this time she took an estimated 100,000 photographs, primarily of people and cityscapes most often in Chicago, although she traveled and photographed worldwide.

Vivian Maier’s Chicago is a new exhibition is currently on display at The Chicago History Museum located at the south end of Lincoln Park at 1601 North Clark Street. Discover Chicago faces and neighborhoods of the 1960’s and 1970’s from her very unique vantage point. I visited the exhibition that has wowed the world with her breathtaking images of everyday life in urban America and now I am a huge fan!

One of the people responsible for bringing these great works of art to us is Chicagoan John Maloff, who purchased  more than 100,000 negatives along with about 20-30,000 negatives still in rolls, undeveloped from the 1960’s-1970’s. The story and some of these images can be found on the VIVIAN MAIER – HER DISCOVERED WORK website and book of the same title. Along with the story of finding the film and negatives , on Unfolding the mystery of Vivian MaierJohn Maloff explains, “This was created in dedication to the photographer Vivian Maier, a Street Photographer from the 1950’s – 1990’s. Vivian’s work was discovered at auction here in Chicago where she resided most of her life. Her discovered work includes over 100,000 mostly medium format negatives (90% of her work), thousands of prints, and countless undeveloped rolls of film”

From the Chicago History Museum website:

Vivian Maier’s Chicago at the Chicago History Museum

Open through summer 2013

See Chicago through the eyes of Vivian Maier and witness the life work of a photographer who wowed the world with breathtaking images of everyday life in urban America. Maier’s Chicago collection will be presented at larger than life scale vividly documenting Chicago neighborhoods and faces of the 1960’s and 70’s.

Vivian Maier was born in New York City in 1926, but spent much of her life travelling to places like Egypt, Bangkok, Italy, and the American Southwest with camera in tow. In 1956 she settled in Chicago, where she remained until her death in 2009. She spent her adult life as a nanny to a series of North Shore families, and devoted her free time and money to her passion, photography.

Images for Vivian Maier’s Chicago come from the Jeffrey Goldstein collection (Vivian Maier Prints Inc.) Acquired in 2010, the Goldstein collection includes over 15,000 negatives, 1,000 prints, 30 homemade movies, and numerous slides. They document Vivian’s European years prior to her early 1950’s stay in New York continuing through her Chicago years from 1955 into the early 1970’s.


Vivian Maier – Her Discovered Work  –  Images from the John Maloof  Collection

Vivian Maier’s Official Website – Vivian Maier Photography – Images from the Jeffrey Goldstein Collection (Vivian Maier Prints, Inc.)

Three highly recommend books are:

Vivian Maier: Street Photographer by Vivian Maier, John Maloof and Geoff Dyer (Nov 16, 2011)

Vivian Maier: Out of the Shadows by Richard Cahan and Michael Williams (Oct 16, 2012)

Vivian Maier, Photographer – Hearst Gallery by Vivian Maier, Jeffrey Goldstein, Anne Zakaras and Jeremy Biles (2011)

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