Vivian Maier
Portrait Vivian Maier

Self portrait, New York


February 1, 1926 to April 21, 2009

Vivian Maier was born in France, but spent most of her life in the United States, mainly in Chicago, the urban landscape, in which she produced an astonishing body of work consisting of more than 100,000 images. None of them were published during her lifetime. The motivation of the outspoken socialist and feminist, who worked as a nanny for a number of different families and took pictures with a Rolleiflex camera, often dressed in men’s clothes wearing a large hat, is still a mystery. Just as her biography is.

Maier’s fascinating black-and-white renderings taken in the Fifties and Sixties and the characters and faces she captured represent more that just “street photography”. Her visual poetry illustrates a sentiment writer Carl Sandburg expressed in his famous poem “Chicago” – a metropolis built by German and Polish immigrants, “stormy, husky, brawling” and a “City of the Big Shoulders”.

Maier’s images were discovered in 2007, when her belongings were auctioned off, because she no longer had the wherewithal to pay rent for the warehouse space she had been using for her belongings.


Bruuns Galleri, Aarhus, Denmark (March 19 to April 11, 2010)

The Apartment Gallery, Oslo, Norway (November 18 to December 4, 2010)

Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago, IL (January 8 to April 3, 2011)

John Maloof
Discoverer and Collector

John Maloof’s stumbled accidentally into Vivian Maier’s images. And it only turned into a passion, when the 26-year old real estate agent began to dive deep into those thousands of negatives and small prints he had bought on a whim at an auction in Chicago. When he realized the value of Maier’s work it was too late to talk to her about her life and her ambition. The photographer had died a few weeks earlier and a short obituary published in the Chicago Tribune gave only hints about her existence.

Ever since John Maloof works on deciphering the Vivian Maier mystery, a woman who had no siblings, no children and no heirs. After he started a blog – vivianmaier. – and a Flickr page with a selection of her pictures he drew enough attention to cause writers for international newspapers such as The Independent in Britain and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in Germany to take notice.

At the end of 2010 Maier’s images were exhibited for the first time in a show in Aarhus, Denmark. Twinkle, twinkle, little star... is the first show in Germany.