Artist of the Week: Vivian Maier


I first heard about Vivian Maier (1926-2009) a few years ago. Previously unknown, she became big news when a photo enthusiast/historian purchased $380 worth of her unprocessed film at auction and processed it, discovering a tremendous talent in 1950s & 1960s street photography. Unfortunately for us, Maier passed away before her work was brought to light but, as her contemporaries have said, she’d have hated all the attention her work is now getting.

Now the man who discovered her, John Maloof, has directed a film about his discovery and Maier herself. The film premieres in New York and Los Angeles at the end of March, with screenings around the country throughout April, May and into this summer.

Here’s a preview to give you an overview of the story:

Vivian Maier was an incredibly prolific photographer. Between the late 1940s until 1990s, she shot on average one roll of film per day according to the Photo Center’s Rafael Soldi; her body of work includes more than 100,000 images.Yet she shared her passion and results with no one. Can you imagine?

Now on to her work. Look at how close she gets to her subjects while remaining unnoticed. I think using a Rolleiflex certainly helped:


Vivian Maier 1953 New York


Vivian Maier 1954 New York


Vivian Maier July 27, 1954 New York


Vivian Maier, Undated


Vivian Maier, Chicago

And sometimes she engaged directly with her subjects to make relaxed, authentic portraits. For someone who was seemingly such an introvert, I wonder how that happened:


Vivian Maier, May 16, 1957


Vivian Maier Grenoble, France 1959

To see more of Vivian Maier’s work, check out this interview with collector Jeffrey Goldsmith on Chase Jarvis’s blog or visit the Goldsmith Collection and Maloof Collection.

I’m looking forward to seeing the new film. How about you? Any thoughts or observations about Vivian’s work?