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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Vivian Maier

Dates:  1926, 1 February - 2009, 21 April
Born:  US, NY, New York City
Died:  US, IL, Oak Park
Active:  US
She lived in both the USA and France as a child and settled permanently in the USA where she worked as a family nanny. She appears to have had little or no contact with the photographic world although she did have a number of photographic books. A collection of her negatives was purchased by chance at a furniture and antique auction and the purchaser, John Maloof, went on to acquire many of her possessions along with her cameras, clippings files and prints. In all the collection includes over 100,000 negatives of American street photography making it a highly significant collection. The Stephen Bulger Gallery in Toronto purchased 17,5000 of her black-and-white negatives from collector Jeffrey Goldstein in December 2014. The case of who owns the copyright on these photographs is complex and unclear with a missing brother, who changed his name, and various cousins.
Chris Beetles Fine Photography - Press Release
Vivian Maier
11 March – 3 April, 2013
The nanny whose recently discovered photographs have been compared to Diane Arbus, Walker Evans and Brassai.
In 2007 a real estate agent John Maloof purchased 30,000 negatives taken by the then anonymous photographer Vivian Maier, a reclusive nanny from Chicago. Bought on a hunch, he had inadvertently stumbled upon an undiscovered pot of gold.
Born in New York in 1926, Maier spent her youth in France before returning home to The States in 1951. There she spent the next five decades looking after various families and their children. As well as following in the footsteps of Mary Poppins this eccentric, highly intellectual and heavily opinionated lady was also a serious street photographer.
With her Rolleiflex camera firmly around her neck Maier strolled through the streets of Chicago and New York casting her gaze over the everyday characters and scenes she saw. Fashionable fur stoles, boys playing on the beach and journeys on the Statten Island ferry are just some of the subjects that caught her untrained, yet brilliant eye.
When Maloof, acquired these negatives in 2007 Maier was a complete unknown, and there was no knowledge of her talent or the breadth of her archive. The storage locker, which contained Maloofs acquisition, was only auctioned off to help settle a number of payments, which had built up before Maier's death in 2009.
After Maloof’s initial discovery he went on to recover over 2,000 rolls of undeveloped film, 3,000 prints and 150,000 negatives. This incredible archive is now highly regarded in the photography field and Maier has since been likened to the great 20th Century documentary photographers Diane Arbus, Brassai, Walker Evans and Weegee.

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Vivian Maier
New York, NY 
1954, 18 October
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