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JANUARY 12, 2011

Hiding in plain sight
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Vivian Maier’s street photographs

Three years ago in Chicago, a twentysomething real-estate agent named John Maloof stumbled upon a hidden treasure: tens of thousands of negatives that had once belonged to one of our best, and least-known, street photographers.

Vivian Maier spoke with a European accent, worked as a live-in nanny, and seems to have taken most of her photographs on her days off; that and the fact that she died in 2009, at the age of 83, are pretty much all we know about her. (“I didn’t know what ‘street photography’ was when I purchased them,” Maloof said of the negatives.) But Maier’s photos—which are currently on display at the Chicago Cultural Center and are also available online—have their own stories to tell, and it’s great to see them getting the recognition that Maier seems never to have sought for herself.

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VIEW a slide show of Vivian Maier’s photographs

VISIT John Maloof’s blog

READ more about Maloof and Maier

WATCH a local news segment about Maloof’s find

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