Nationality: American | Born: 1926 - Died: 2009
Vivian Dorothea Maier (February 1, 1926 – April 21, 2009) was an American amateur street photographer, who was born in New York City but grew up in France. After returning to the United States, she worked for about forty years as a nanny in Chicago, IL. During those years, she took about 100,000 photographs, primarily of people and cityscapes in Chicago, although she traveled and photographed worldwide. Her photographs remained unknown and mostly undeveloped until they were discovered by a local Chicago historian and collector, John Maloof, in 2007. Following Maier's death, her work began to receive critical acclaim. Her photographs have been exhibited in the US, England, Germany, Denmark, and Norway, and have appeared in newspapers and magazines in the US, England, Germany, Italy, France and other countries. A book of her photography titled Vivian Maier: Street Photographer was published in 2011.
Personal lifeMany of the details of Maier's life are still being uncovered. Initial impressions about her life indicated that she was born in France, but further researching revealed that she was born in New York, the daughter of Maria Jaussaud and Charles Maier, French and Austrian respectively. Vivian moved between the U.S. and France several times during her childhood, although where in France she lived is unknown. Her father seems to have left the family for unknown reasons by 1930. In the census that year, the head of the household was listed as award-winning portrait photographer Jeanne Bertrand, who knew the founder of the Whitney Museum of American Art. In 1951, at 25, Maier moved from France to New York, where she worked for some time in a sweatshop. She made her way to the Chicago area's North Shore in 1956 and became a nanny on and off for about 40 years, staying with one family for 14 of them. She was, in the accounts of the families for whom she worked, very private, spending her days off walking the streets of Chicago and taking photographs, most often with a Rolleiflex camera. John Maloof, curator of Maier's collection of photographs, summarizes the way the children she nannied would later describe her: She was a Socialist, a Feminist, a movie critic, and a tell-it-like-it-is type of person. She learned English by going to theaters, which she loved. She wore a men's jacket, men's shoes and a large hat most of the time. She was constantly taking pictures, which she didn't show anyone. Between 1959 and 1960, Maier traveled to and photographed in Los Angeles, Manila, Bangkok, Beijing, Egypt, Italy and the American Southwest. The trip was probably financed by the sale of a family farm in Alsace. For a brief period in the 1970s, Maier worked as a nanny for Phil Donahue's children. As she got older, she collected more boxes of belongings, taking them with her to each new post. At one employer's house, she stored 200 boxes of materials. Most were photographs or negatives, but Maier collected other objects, such as newspapers, and sometimes recorded audiotapes of conversations she had with people she photographed. Toward the end of her life, Maier may have been homeless for some time. She lived on Social Security and may have had another source of income, but the children she had taken care of in the early 1950s bought her an apartment in the Rogers Park area of Chicago and paid her bills. In 2008, she slipped on ice and hit her head. She did not fully recover and died in 2009, at 83.
Author: John Maloof
Publisher: Harper Design
Year: 2014 - Pages: 288
The definitive monograph of American photographer Vivian Maier, exploring the full range and brilliance of her work and the mystery of her life, written and edited by noted photography curator and writer Marvin Heiferman; featuring 250 black-and-white images, color work, and other materials never seen before; and a foreword by New York Times bestselling author Laura Lippman.
Vivian Maier’s story—the secretive nanny-photographer during her life who becomes a popular sensation shortly after her death—has, to date, been pieced together only from previously seen or known images she made and the handful of facts that have surfaced about her life. During her lifetime she shot more than 100,000 images, which she kept hidden from the world. In 2007, two years before her death, Chicago historic preservationist John Maloof discovered a trove of negatives, and roll upon roll of undeveloped film in a storage locker he bought at auction. They revealed a surprising and accomplished artist and a stunning body of work, which Maloof championed and brought to worldwide acclaim.
Vivian Maier presents the most comprehensive collection and largest selection of the photographer’s work—created during the 1950s through the 1970s in New York, Chicago, and on her travels around the country—almost exclusively unpublished and including her previously unknown color work. It features images of and excerpts from Maier’s personal artifacts, memorabilia, and audiotapes, made available for the first time. This remarkable volume draws upon recently conducted interviews with people who knew Maier, which shed new light on Maier’s photographic skill and her life.
Author: Richard Cahan, Michael Williams
Publisher: CityFiles Press
Year: 2012 - Pages: 288
Presenting her breathtaking photographs alongside revealing interviews with those who knew her best, this volume is the first attempt to put Vivian Maier's work in context and create a moving portrait of her as an artist. Though she created more than 120,000 negatives during her lifetime, only a few were ever seen by others. Shortly after her death in 2009, the first group of her unseen photographs--gritty with humanity and filled with empathy and beauty--were shown online. What followed was a firestorm of attention, catapulting Maier from previous obscurity to being labeled as one of the masters of street photography. Her work has appeared in numerous museum exhibits and a feature-length documentary on her life and art has already been planned. Features more than 300 duotone photos printed on 105# paper with flood varnish.
Author: Vivian Maier, John Maloof
Publisher: powerHouse Books
Year: 2011 - Pages: 136
A good street photographer must be possessed of many talents: an eye for detail, light, and composition; impeccable timing; a populist or humanitarian outlook; and a tireless ability to constantly shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot and never miss a moment. It is hard enough to find these
qualities in trained photographers with the benefit of schooling and mentors and a community of fellow artists and aficionados supporting and rewarding their efforts. It is incredibly rare to find it in someone with no formal training and no network of peers. Yet Vivian Maier is all of these things, a professional nanny, who from the 1950s until the 1990s took over 100,000 photographs worldwide—from France to New York City to Chicago and dozens of other countries—and yet showed the results to no one. The photos are amazing both for the breadth of the work and for the high quality of the humorous, moving, beautiful, and raw images of all facets of city life in America’s post-war golden age. It wasn’t until local historian John Maloof purchased a box of Maier’s negatives from a Chicago auction house and began collecting and championing her marvelous work just a few years ago that any of it saw the light of day. Presented here for the first time in print, Vivian Maier: Street Photographer collects the best of her incredible, unseen body of work.