Photos: Massive Archive Of Vivian Maier Images Gifted To UChicago

By Stephen Gossett in Arts & Entertainment on Jul 19, 2017 5:18PM

Vivian Maier rose to posthumous fame around 2012 with an irresistible backstory: While Maier labored in obscurity as a nanny to wealthy Chicago clients from the '50s through the '90s, she passed the time as an amateur street photographer. When a trove of her work emerged after her death, her street-scene photography quickly proved even more compelling than her narrative—which has now taken another twist.

Nearly 500 vintage prints have been donated to the University of Chicago, by collector John Maloof—who, back in 2008, purchased storage lockers that Maier had owned, only to happen upon some 100,000 of her photographs. Once unleashed, her photos quickly gathered an international reputation, garnering comparison to masters of documentary street photography masters like Robert Frank and Henri Cartier-Bresson.

The archive of images headed to UChicago has never been publicly exhibited or published. It's the first time that Maier's photos have gone to research facility, and the hope is that researchers can soon better understand her work from technical-process and thematic-growth perspectives.

Aside from the everyday people that often filled her frame, the collection also includes some famous subjects, lensed from the street, like John F. Kennedy, Eleanor Roosevelt, Frank Sinatra. You can sample a small handful above from the just-announced donation.