Finding Vivian Maier

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Chicago street photographer Vivian Maier was almost completely unknown at the time of her death in 2009, but since then there’s been an explosion of interest in her work—thanks mainly to John Maloof, who acquired some 30,000 of her prints and negatives at auction and began posting them online. As codirector of this documentary (with Charlie Siskel), Maloof recounts his great discovery and interviews people who knew the reclusive artist; she spent most of her adult life working as a nanny (for Phil Donahue, among others), and her former charges recall her as a prickly character who jealously guarded her photography from the outside world. Like Henry Darger, another Chicagoan whose gift went unrecognized in his lifetime, Maier was an eccentric and a hoarder, and the portrait Maloof and Siskel assemble here from the scant information available suggests that her fanatical privacy was the darkroom in which her distinctive artistic personality was developed.