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New Book To Recognize Obscure Chicago Photographer Vivian Maier

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A self-portrait of Chicago photographer Vivian Maier. (Photo courtesy: Carol Fox and Associates Public Relations)

A self-portrait of Chicago photographer Vivian Maier. (Photo courtesy: Carol Fox and Associates Public Relations)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – A Chicago woman who lived in obscurity is now recognized for her extraordinary legacy.

WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports, just before Vivian Maier died alone and destitute in 2009, collectors stumbled across a treasure trove of photographs she left behind.

Jeffrey Goldstein, who bought part of the collection, says in 2007 – after Maier had fallen behind on payments for five storage lockers – over 100,000 negatives were found inside them.

Maier was born in New York, grew up in France and moved to Chicago in 1955.

“She was very ordinary,” Goldstein said of Maier.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger Reports


She worked in Chicago as a nanny, but her true passion was photography, carrying her camera wherever she went.

“On average, she shot about one roll a day. Everything from in-state to out-of-state. She would travel to locations to shoot. She shot Maxwell Street, the northern suburbs, riding on the train,” Goldstein said.

Maier never developed most of the photographs and instead simply locked them away as negatives.

“There were people who thought there was no film in her camera because they would just see her shooting away and never see anything after that,” Goldstein said.

Goldstein, an artist himself, says printing and archiving Maier’s breath-taking array of stunning photos is now consuming his life. He’s converted an apartment into a studio near Howard and Western, just blocks from where Maier lived.

“I’m meeting more and more people who remember seeing her in the alleys. She lived right down on Sheridan and Howard,” he said.

Goldstein has collaborated with authors Rich Cahan and Michael Williams on a new book, “Vivian Maier: Out of the Shadows.”

A companion exhibit opens September 7th and runs through October 19th at the Thomas Masters Gallery in Chicago.

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