In 1919, at the age of ten, MacIver attended Saturday classes at the Art Students League in New York—her only formal instruction in painting. When she was twenty-five she married poet Lloyd Frankenberg and settled in Greenwich Village. Although she continued painting, she never expected to make a career as an artist. From 1936 until 1939 she worked on the WPA, and in the 1940s, as her reputation grew, she received commissions to do several murals for shipping lines and magazine covers. After her first trip to Europe in 1948, Maclver painted with increasingly brilliant colors. In 1966 she returned to Paris, where she remained for four years and worked in Provence for several winters. New York City, where she has spent much of her life, and her recurrent interest in nature have been the principal themes of Maclver's art, which has ranged stylistically from extreme realism to highly abstract designs.
Virginia M. Mecklenburg Modern American Realism: The Sara Roby Foundation Collection (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press for the National Museum of American Art, 1987)