Last Updated August 03, 2018
New York, NY, September 1953 © Estate of Vivian Maier, Courtesy of Maloof Collection and Howard Greenberg Gallery, NY

Vivian Maier

American (Born 1926 - Died 2009 ) PREMIUM LISTING
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Armenian Woman Fighting on East 86th Street, September 1956 © Estate of Vivian Maier, Courtesy of Maloof Collection and Howard Greenberg Gallery, NY
Canada, n.d © Estate of Vivian Maier, Courtesy of Maloof Collection and Howard Greenberg Gallery, NY
Canada, n.d.© Estate of Vivian Maier, Courtesy of Maloof Collection and Howard Greenberg Gallery, NY
Chicago, IL, August 16, 1956 © Estate of Vivian Maier, Courtesy of Maloof Collection and Howard Greenberg Gallery, NY
Chicago, IL, c. 1950s © Estate of Vivian Maier, Courtesy of Maloof Collection and Howard Greenberg Gallery, NY
Chicago, IL, c. 1960 © Estate of Vivian Maier, Courtesy of Maloof Collection and Howard Greenberg Gallery, NY
New York, NY, 1954 © Estate of Vivian Maier, Courtesy of Maloof Collection and Howard Greenberg Gallery, NY
New York, NY, c. 1950 © Estate of Vivian Maier, Courtesy of Maloof Collection and Howard Greenberg Gallery, NY
New York, NY, May 1953 © Estate of Vivian Maier, Courtesy of Maloof Collection and Howard Greenberg Gallery, NY
New York, NY.  1954 © Estate of Vivian Maier, Courtesy of Maloof Collection and Howard Greenberg Gallery, NY
New York, NY. 1954 © Estate of Vivian Maier, Courtesy of Maloof Collection and Howard Greenberg Gallery, NY
Self-portrait, Chicago, n.d. © Estate of Vivian Maier, Courtesy of Maloof Collection and Howard Greenberg Gallery, NYtiff
Self-portrait, Chicago, n.d. © Estate of Vivian Maier, Courtesy of Maloof Collection and Howard Greenberg Gallery, NY
Self-portrait, San Diego, California, September 25, 1955 © Estate of Vivian Maier, Courtesy of Maloof Collection and Howard Greenberg Gallery, NY
Untitled, 1957 © Estate of Vivian Maier, Courtesy of Maloof Collection and Howard Greenberg Gallery, NY
The Empire State Building Observation Deck, New York, 1954 © Estate of Vivian Maier, Courtesy of Maloof Collection and Howard Greenberg Gallery, NY
Untitled, 1962 © Estate of Vivian Maier, Courtesy of Maloof Collection and Howard Greenberg Gallery, NY
Untitled, n.d. © Estate of Vivian Maier, Courtesy of Maloof Collection and Howard Greenberg Gallery, NY
DESCRIPTION / BIOGRAPHY
Born on February 1, 1926 in New York City, Vivian Dorothea Maier was an American of French and Austro-Hungarian extraction.

Although born in New York City in the U.S. to a French mother and Austrian father, it was in France that Maier spent most of her youth. Maier returned to the U.S. in 1951 where she took up work as a nanny and care-giver for the rest of her life. In her leisure however, Maier had begun to venture into the art of photography. Consistently taking photos over the course of five decades, she would ultimately leave over 100,000 negatives, most of them shot in Chicago and New York City. Vivian would further indulge in her passionate devotion to documenting the world around her through homemade films, recordings and collections, assembling one of the most fascinating windows into American life in the second half of the twentieth century.

Sometime in 1949, while in France, Vivian began toying with her first photos. Her camera was a Kodak Brownie box camera, an amateur camera with only one shutter speed, no focus control, and no aperture dial. The viewer screen is tiny, and for the controlled landscape or portrait artist, it would arguably impose a wedge in between Vivian and her intentions due to its inaccuracy. Her intentions were at the mercy of this feeble machine. In 1951, Maier returned to New York and she began work with a family in Southampton as a nanny.

In 1952 she purchased a Rolleiflex camera.

In 1956, she settled in Chicago where she was employed as a nanny for more than forty years. Shooting pictures with her children at hand or on her days off, Maier fearlessly hit the bustling streets and actively photographed the city denizens, stashing her unedited images in sleeves and envelopes, boxes and trunks, and then storage facilities.


In 2008 Vivian fell on a patch of ice and hit her head in downtown Chicago. Although she was expected to make a full recovery, her health began to deteriorate, forcing Vivian into a nursing home. She passed away a short time later in April of 2009. Towards the end of her life, Maier was supported by the children she had cared for in the early 50s. Unbeknownst to them, one of Maier’s storage lockers (containing her massive group of negatives) was auctioned off due to failed payments.

With her highly skilled eye and a keen photographic sense, critics have drawn comparisons between her work and that of 20th-century photographers such as Robert Frank, Garry Winogrand, and Diane Arbus. From what we can ascertain from her body of work, Maier’s photographic output was more than a solitary woman interested in just taking pictures but in fact was a powerful vehicle for her to connect with the world around her. Her importance in the history of photography is yet to be determined and continues to intrigue.

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