Debbie Millman | Audio

Design Matters from the Archive: Maira Kalman

Debbie talks to writer and illustrator Maira Kalman about how ordinary objects inspire her art, and about her collaborations with the likes of Mark Morris and Isaac Mizrahi. "If things are going well there's a lot of trust. If you have to talk too much about something, I think you might be in a little bit of trouble."

Born in Tel Aviv and raised in Riverdale, the Bronx, Maira Kalman is a frequent contributor to The New Yorker Magazine, and is justly well known for her collaboration with Rick Meyerowitz on the “New Yorkistan” cover of 2001. Maira is currently creating an illustrated column for The New Yorker based on travels to museums and libraries. 

Recent projects include illustrating Strunk and White’s classic The Elements of Style and a small opera based on the text was composed by Nico Muhly. She has created two monthly online columns for the New York Times. The first, "The Principles of Uncertainty" (2006–07), was a narrative journal of her life. The second, "And The Pursuit of Happiness" (2009) was a year long exploration of American history and democracy. Both columns are now collected in book form, published by the Penguin Press.

Maira has written and illustrated eighteen children’s books, including Ooh-la-la-Max in Love, What Pete Ate, Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey, 13 WORDS, a collaboration with Lemony Snicket, Why We Broke Up, with Daniel Handler, Looking at Lincoln, and Thomas Jefferson Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Everything.

Maira Kalman has had eight exhibitions at the Julie Saul Gallery since 2003. In 2010, The Institute of Contemporary Art (Philadelphia) organized a retrospective of her work entitled Maira Kalman: Various Illuminations (of a Crazy World). The show traveled to the Contemporary Jewish Museum (San Francisco, CA), the Skirball Cultural Center (Los Angeles, CA), and the Jewish Museum in New York City.

She has collaborated with Michael Pollan to illustrate his acclaimed Food Rules, just published Girls on Lawns, with text by Daniel Handler. It is the first of five books she will be doing with the photography department of the Museum of Modern Art. The Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum will publish two books by Maira in connection with an exhibition she has curated, Maira Kalman: My Favorite Things. The exhibition will open in October 2014. One for children, Ag-Ha to Zig-Zag, and one for adults, called My Favorite Things. Future book projects include a book about dogs, and an illustrated edition of The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas.

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Comments [1]

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Taposy Rabeya

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