Vivian Maier’s Unseen Photographs Arrive in New York City


For many photographers, flying low under the radar—snapping pictures from a clandestine corner, remaining unseen while they shoot—is a key part of the vocation. Perhaps no photographer knows more about maintaining anonymity than Vivian Maier, a French-American, Chicago-based nanny who picked up a camera in the 1950s and began documenting the streets and people of post-war America. But none of the 100,000-plus images she shot were printed during her lifetime. Her immense photographic archive was stashed in her storage locker, which the historian (and flea market merchant) John Maloof purchased in 2007 at a Chicago thrift auction. To his surprise, those lockers—which were auctioned off due to delinquent payments—contained Maier’s treasure trove of undiscovered works: over 12,000 negatives, 40,000 Ektachrome slides, and 700 undeveloped rolls of film. He eventually directed and produced an Academy Award-nominated documentary about the project in 2013, Finding Vivian Maier—but compiling and displaying the full scope of her oeuvre has proved a years-long task.

Now, the next phase of uncovering Maier’s photographs has arrived at Fotografiska in New York City. Vivian Maier: Unseen Work explores the photographer’s work from the early 1950s to the mid-1980s. There are about 200 pieces on display, ranging from the black-and-white street photography that first earned her notoriety, plus color works and even Super 8 films. The retrospective, which first showed at the Musée du Luxembourg in Paris in 2021, captures how ahead of her time Maier was; many of her signature images are proto-mirror selfies and street style photography. But her archive hasn’t even been fully reconstructed—there’s still about 10 percent of it left to catalogue. Below, scroll through some of Maier’s more obscure works—before the next round of her groundbreaking and previously unseen imagery hits another museum.

Chicago, IL, May 16, 1957

© Estate of Vivian Maier, Courtesy of John Maloof Collection and Howard Greenberg Gallery, NY

chicago il may 16
© Estate of Vivian Maier, Courtesy of John Maloof Collection and Howard Greenberg Gallery, NY
untitled 1958

© Estate of Vivian Maier, Courtesy of John Maloof Collection and Howard Greenberg Gallery, NY

p 132
© Estate of Vivian Maier, Courtesy of John Maloof Collection and Howard Greenberg Gallery, NY
grenoble france 1959

© Estate of Vivian Maier, Courtesy of John Maloof Collection and Howard Greenberg Gallery, NY

p 200

Central Park, New York, NY, September 26, 1959

© Estate of Vivian Maier, Courtesy of John Maloof Collection and Howard Greenberg Gallery, NY

central park new york

Central Park, New York, September 26, 1959.

© Estate of Vivian Maier, Courtesy of John Maloof Collection and Howard Greenberg Gallery, NY

vm int plates bm final

© Estate of Vivian Maier, Courtesy of John Maloof Collection and Howard Greenberg Gallery, NY

p 198

Self-Portrait, New York, NY, 1954

© Estate of Vivian Maier, Courtesy of John Maloof Collection and Howard Greenberg Gallery, NY

self portrait new york

Self-Portrait, New York, 1954.



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