Vivian Maier

Vivian Maier’s work was unknown during her lifetime, though today she is considered one of the greatest photographers of the twentieth century. Born to a French mother and Austrian father in the Bronx in 1926, Maier spent her early years between New York and France, the latter being where she started exploring photography in 1949.

In 1951, Maier returned to New York City, where she was hired as a governess, which would be her occupation for the next 40 years. In 1956, she moved to the North Shore suburbs of Chicago, where she landed a position with a family of three boys. Maier’s job as a caretaker allowed her to continue pursuing photography and also grew her interest and fascination with capturing childhood through the lens of her camera.

However, a lack of stability in her career and financial situation, combined with a fierce desire for privacy, prevented her from developing her own film. She placed undeveloped, unprinted work into storage with her other belongings in the early 2000s, when she moved between living in a small studio apartment and being unhoused. In 2007, due to rent payments, the negatives were auctioned off by the storage company, where a large portion of them were purchased by John Maloof.

Maloof, a filmmaker and photographer himself, became the first person to bring Maier’s work into the public eye and began to promote it widely just after her passing in 2009.

Archive Exhibitions Featuring Vivian Maier

Vivian Maier: Unseen Work

Brooklyn Bridge Park – Emily Warren Roebling Plaza

Vivian Maier: Unseen Work sheds new light on Maier’s dense and unique body of work, where street scenes, sidewalk chronicles, portraits, self-portraits, and gestures depict a precise record of the socio-political changes in New York and Chicago in the 1950s.

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