March 13, 2011

From behind the lens, she depicted a world

A Chicago nanny who took thousands of photos in her spare time is lauded posthumously as an artist.

By SHARON COHEN The Associated Press

(Continued from page 2)

Vivian Maier
click image to enlarge

This is an undated and untitled self-portrait of Vivian Maier.

AP/Maloof Collection/Vivian Maier

SEE SOME of Vivian Maier's work at and

Maier made 3,000 to 4,000 prints. Maloof owns about 100,000 negatives and so far, has scanned just about 10 percent of them. (Another collector has about 12,000.) About a third of Maier's work remains in the rolls.

This winter, Maloof succeeded in getting a one-woman show for Maier at the Chicago Cultural Center -- her U.S. debut. Maier's photos already have been displayed in Denmark, Norway and Germany and in magazines in England, Poland and Italy, among others.

Maloof is now working with Sekula to assemble a book of her photos. He's also joined his partner, Rydzon, and a Danish filmmaker to produce a documentary, "Finding Vivian Maier."

He is not, he insists, looking to make money on her legacy. He says he merely wants to bring her photos to the world, and bring credit to an unsung artist.


The Gensburg brothers remained devoted to Maier in her final days.

They rented her an apartment. And when she fell in late 2008 and was hospitalized, they were there, too. Maier wasn't strong enough to return to her apartment, so they moved her to a nursing home.

She was so unhappy, she pretty much stopped communicating.

After Vivian Maier died in April 2009, the Gensburgs returned to the North Shore woods where their adventurous nanny had taken them to pick strawberries.

This time, they read Psalms and scattered her ashes in the spring air.


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