Vivian Maier

Street Photographer


August 30 – October 19, 2014


The Hasselblad Foundation is the first Swedish institution to show the works of acclaimed and recently discovered American photographer Vivian Maier. The exhibition contains more than 100 photographs as well as a number of Super 8 films made during 1950-70 in Chicago and New York.


Vivian Maier (1926-2009) was employed as a nanny in Chicago in the early 1950s and for a further four decades. She lived a private and lonely life, until the recent discovery in 2007 of her body of photographic work: an immense oeuvre comprising more than 120,000 negatives, Super 8 and 16 mm films, various audio recordings, photographs, and a great number of undeveloped rolls of film. The compilation, organisation and digitalisation of the images are still ongoing. The material that has been made available so far shows a skilled and determined photographer’s portrayals of street life – work that can be compared to the likes of acclaimed photographers such as Lisette Model, Helen Levitt, Lee Friedlander, Robert Frank and Diane Arbus, all of which were Vivian Maier’s contemporaries.


The exhibition shows glimpses of the life on the streets of Chicago and New York during 1950-70. The things that captured Vivian Maier’s interest were both humoristic details as well as dramatic events. She often portrayed both the affluent and the poor parts of the city. We see society ladies dressed in fur and elegant hats, next to dispossessed people sleeping on the streets, or children playing in alleys or city parks. Vivian Maier is often interested in reflections. Her many self-portraits came about as mirrorings in display windows and other surfaces in the public space, such as in the convex surveillance mirror in the shop, but also as shadows on the ground.


Vivian Maier spent the last years of her life alone and in poverty. Shortly before her death the contents of her storage, containing all her belongings, were sold at auction due to unpaid rent. Three people acquired the photographs and film rolls, one of which was John Maloof that today holds the largest part of the material. The photographs in the exhibition are part of his collection. The selection of images was made by curator Anne Morin from diChroma Photography, Madrid. The exhibition shows one side of Vivian Maier’s oeuvre that gives deeper understanding of her life and work, but it also sheds light on how the mechanisms of the art world work around the discovery and formation of a previously existing artist’s work.


Curator: Anne Morin

Curator in charge at the Hasselblad Foundation: Dragana Vujanovic

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