HYDE PARK — The University of Chicago will be the first research institute to hold works by Chicago photographer Vivian Maier after a donation of nearly 500 prints.
The university last month announced that filmmaker John Maloof has donated nearly 500 prints by the photographer known for her street scenes of Chicago and New York City to the university library’s Special Collections Research Center.
“This collection of prints will help researchers and students to understand Maier as a working photographer,” said Daniel Meyer, director of the center. “As a new discovery in 20th-century American photography, Vivian Maier’s work also offers fresh insights into the viewpoints and graphic styles of her contemporaries.”
Maier was largely unknown until 2008 when a cache of 100,000 of her photographs were discovered among the contents of a storage locker purchased at auction.
Maloof wrote and co-directed the documentary “Finding Vivian Maier” about what is known of the photographer’s life and the rediscovery of her work.
The collection acquired by the university is currently being cataloged and is expected to be available to view by the end of the year.
“There’s more here that she physically created with her hands—that can be studied—than has ever been open to the public,” Maloof said. “This is what made her tick, who she was as an artist.”
Maloof, a former real estate agent who bought Maier's images in a storage locker for less than $400, plans to donate additional Maier prints to the library, according to the university.
Maier gained posthumous fame as a mysterious nanny whose street photography experts say puts her among the greatest street photographers of all time.
[Courtesy of the Estate of Vivian Maier]