Almost an urban legend of contemporary art, Vivian Maier: A Life Discovered is the archive, found posthumously, of a gifted but unknown photographer and documentarian, whose work presented with such aesthetic power and narrative intrigue that it inspired cataloging, exhibition, a book and a film. Maier was a consummate traveler and connoisseur of the “exceptional everyday.” Landing somewhere along the Mary Ellen Mark–Weegee–Diane Arbus continuum, Maier photographed individuals, architecture and street scenes in the world's most glamorous cities. She had an unerring intuition for capturing small but salient actions and the dramatic play of light. She was prolific but private. In 2007, collector John Maloof came across a once-lost trove of 150,000 negatives, plus vintage prints, audio and video, and it has taken until now to get it sorted out. But it was worth the wait. Maier worked steadily from the 1930s to the '70s, and this wide-range sampling of photographs in both modern and unique vintage-print editions includes sweeping urban vistas, intimate moments unfolding in public, and changing fashions and urban development playing out in street scenes rich with detail and a flair for the chic, nostalgic and dramatic.

Tuesdays-Saturdays. Starts: Dec. 17. Continues through Jan. 29, 2011

LA Weekly