Chicago Street Photographer: Finding Vivian Maier

John Maloff, an intrepid real estate agent and author, has brought forth his hidden talents and introduced me to a stern-looking French/Austrian woman named Vivian Maier.  Maier spent her day-to-day life working as a nanny on the North Shore.  I guess there is hope for all of us in the creative closet.

Maloof’s purchase of 100,000 negatives and thousands of prints was just the beginning.  He is also focused on trying to make a film of Maier’s life and work. Exhaustive research into Maier’s newspaper clippings, audio interviews and other personal effects, makes this exhibit (thru April 3, 2011) a must-see at the Chicago Cultural Center. 

Vivian Maier’s “other” life as a world traveler — needing a respite from wiping the snotty noses of her charges, like Phil Donahue’s kids — produced a style in the vein of Henri Cartier-Bresson.  Her day-to-day images of the downtrodden are as intriguing as the shots of her famous subjects.  Maier’s eccentricities are evident in her work.  Check out her shoes, and you will know what I mean.  But, she was an original.

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