Monday, April 19, 2010

Jill Krementz Photo Journal - Maira Kalman

Hard-cover catalogue for Maira Kalman's retrospective at the Institute for Contemporary Art in Philadelphia: 144 pages, $34.95. The show will run through June 6, 2010.

On the cover is Woman with Face Net, 2000.
Maira Kalman: Further Illuminations
Julie Saul Gallery
535 West 22nd Street
March 4-May 1st, 2010


Maira Kalman fans will want to visit the Julie Saul Gallery
on Saturday, April 24th from 4 to 6 pm.

The artist will be on hand to sign copies of the hard-cover catalogue, Various Illuminations, recently published in conjunction with her current retrospective
at the Institute for Contemporary Art in Philadelphia.

Concurrently, Ms. Kalman's delightful solo show — approximately 50 gouache paintings created since 2005 — can be viewed at the Julie Saul Gallery.

An artist-at-large, Kalman's work is varied and prodigious: magazine assignments, book illustrations, embroidered linens and hats, as well as bags for Kate Spade and product lines for Isaac Mizrahi. She has designed sets for Mark Morris. You can visit her very popular blog.

Ms. Kalman is the author of over a dozen books, which include Max Makes a Million, Swami on Rye: Max in India, What Pete Ate From A to Z, and The Principles of Uncertainty. Her illustrated edition of The Elements of Style is now available in paperback. Her operatic version of the book was performed at The New York Public Library — a collaboration with Nico Muhly.

Patrons of The New French, a restaurant in Manhattan's West Village, can see a Kalman mural on the wall. Other murals can be seen in the Bronx: one is at the Library at P.S. 47 and the other is at the Wave Hill Visitor's Center.

Maira Kalman has a devoted following. It's easy to see why so many people love this artist who illuminates contemporary life with a profound sense of joy and a unique sense of humor.
Entrance to Julie Saul Gallery on the sixth floor (535 West 22nd Street) in Chelsea.
Julie Saul, who has been showing Maira Kalman's work since 2002. This is Kalman's fourth show. Ms. Saul often brings Vicki, her long-haired dachshund, to the office. Vicki will be 14 on May 3rd. Alvin Hall, a close friend of Julie's, dropped by the gallery on the Saturday I was there. Mr. Hall is a writer and, in his words, "a television presenter." His TV show is called "Alvin's Guide to Good Business." He also wrote a children's book called "Show Me the Money."
Maira Kalman is always very generous when she signs her books, and is happy to include the additional flourish of a drawing. At her book signing she will also be pleased to sign other books by her that you might already have in your collection.
Cupcake, 2009.
Eleanor Roosevelt, 2009.
Chair with Books, 2009. Democracy, 2009.
Men Only, 2009.
Women Only, 2009.
Thomas Edison Napping, 2009.
Beautiful Things, 2009.
Jefferson's Room, 2009. Ms. Kalman went to Washington D.C., for Barack Obama's inauguration, and created several paintings inspired by U.S. history.
Blue Room, 2009.
Green Room in Mt. Vernon, 2009.
The Red Room in the White House, 2009.
Girl in White Dress, 2007. Statue at Sissinghurst, 2007.
Vita Sackville-West, 2007.

My brain is exploding. Trying to make sense out of nonsense. Trying to tell you everything (everything?) and all the while time is fleeing. And the air around me vibrates with so many images. Which is great because most of them are British.

Including the White Garden at Sissinghurst designed by Vita Sackville-West, who was long and lean and in love with Virginia Woolf.
Floral Couch, 2009. The Flowered Bed, Sissinghurst, 2007.
Vase at Sissinghurst, 2007. Fruit at the Ritz, 2005.
Hotel Celeste, 1998.
Nabokov Catching Butterflies, 2009. Rotundiloba, 2009.
Le Corbusier's Ronchamp Chapel, 2009.
Luxury Vase, 2008. Oysters, 2009.
De Soto, 2009.
Velasquez's Girl, 2009.
It's hard to resist showing the original Velasquez, which is in the collection of The Metropolitan Museum or Art.
Benjamin Franklin's Tea Set, 2009.
Pagoda Tree, 2009. Woman Dancing, 2009.
Jane Austen, 2005. Galliano, 2005.
Guards at Night, 2008.
Dreaming has always been a highly productive mode for Maira Kalman. Dreams provide her work with its surreal imagery and structure. This painting is from a picture essay, Mad about the Met, which begins with Kalman sleepwalking through the halls of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. You will probably recognize the entrance hall of the museum.
Top: Sir Thomas More, 2009.
Bottom: The Royal Crown, 2006 and The Royal Pillow, 2009.
Three Soda Bottles, 1999.
Royal Embroidery, 2006. Embroidery on fabric.
Phil Whitman, the registrar, shipping off a Maira Kalman. Mr. Whitman has been with the gallery
for four years.
Samantha Bolton, intern at the gallery.
Vicki greeting gallery visitors.
Maira Kalman was born in Tel Aviv, Israel, in 1949. She moved to the United States in 1954 and currently lives, and often works, in a sunny apartment on the Lower East Side in New York City.
Maira Kalman with her 24-year-old son, Alex, who works with a film company. "It started in high school and it's still around. It's called Red Bucket Films. We're about to have a showing at IFC of our second release called "Daddy Long Legs."
Maira Kalman's painting of her husband, Tibor Kalman. Mr. Kalman, who died in 1999, was an influential graphic designer of Hungarian origin. Under the aegis of M&Co (the M stands for Maira), the Kalmans worked together on many projects which combined wit and wisdom with good design — watches, clocks, paperweights, and even a "sky umbrella," with fluffy white clouds on
its underside, for MoMA.

Ms. Kalman coninues to oversee the licensing for M&Co.

Sometimes, when I imagine my own death, I believe I will be reunited with my loved ones. We are all floating around in a fluffy sky.

I get a delicious cozy feeling. But then I remember that even my loved ones are sometimes very IRRITATING and even INFURIATING — so what is that about? And what would we do
all day forever?

Besides the whole thing is insanely unlikely. I prefer the notion of Heaven on Earth. Of sweet, funny, loving moments. For me heaven on earth is my Aunt's kitchen in Tel Aviv. My aunt is 88. Until recently she swam in the ocean at dawn every day of the year.
Photograph of Maira's mother. "When Tibor and I lived in Rome for two years, with our kids, from 1993-1995, this portrait was taken." Flowers painted by her mother-in-law, Marianne Kalman.
Mantelpiece ephemera with an explanation by Kalman:

If something does go wrong, here is my advice.
During World War II people looked at this poster. Not a bad thing to remember. Under any circumstances.
Maira Kalman's desk, which she thinks used to be a manicurist's table.
"My sister found this picture of a dog in a thrift shop and he became Susan in The Elements of Style." Kalman's illustrated edition of The Elements of Style, by William Strunk, Jr., and E.B. White.
Double-page illustration by Kalman from The Elements of Style, depicting E.B. White at work.
Photograph of a man with baby by Seydou Keïta. Mexican retablo displayed on Kalman-like wooden stand.
Kalman is working on a drawing of an egg slicer. Her students at School of Visual Arts will then silk screen the drawing on to a bag. Kalman has been teaching s seminar in the graduate design department at SVA for seven years.
You might admire my Egg Slicer collection. What is better than a sliced egg sandwich, eaten by someone named SALLY at a luncheonette counter on a drizzly day in New York City?
"I like shoes, so they're all over the place." Refrigerator art: Proust quote hand-written by Kalman.
A collection of hats. The two with pom poms were designed by Maira Kalman's sister, Rivka Schoenfeld, whose hats are sold at Moss on Greene Street.
Sprigs of eucalyptus on mantelpiece.
View of Empire State Building from bedroom window. View from living room window.
A collection of small chairs owned by Maira. The dolls were a Passover gift from a friend.

You might notice that there are objects displayed around the apartment, COLLECTIONS. Tangible evidence of history, memory, longing, delight.
Eames chair made of fiberglass.
Collection of dolls, twigs and pods. William Klein photograph.
Personal photographs.
"Eggs are a recurring motif in my work, which I didn't realize until the other day."
Flowers are everywhere in Kalman's East Village apartment, as they are in her paintings.

Flowers lead to books, which lead to thinking and not thinking and then more flowers and music. Music. Then many more flowers and many more books.
Spring is the air. Don't you think?
Maira's "just-off-the-presses" copy of the catalogue for her current retrospective in Philadelphia.

The show will travel to the Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco (July 1-October 26, 2010); Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles (November 16, 2010-February 13, 2011); and The Jewish Museum, New York (March 11-July 31, 2011).
"I would have to say that Nabokov is my favorite writer."
Bookshelf display of colored threads and colorful hats. Her daughter's name is Lulu.
Maira Kalman embroidering vintage linens.
Poster of Mon Oncle. “Jacques Tati is one of my favorite film-makers.”
I collect white linen fabric from around the world, and spend many happy hours ironing and folding and looking at these things.
"This is a photograph taken in Budapest of my mother-in-law, Marianne, with her twin sister, Dolly."
Maira Kalman lying on her bed and writing a note to Lulu, her daughter. Lulu lives in New York and works as a sous chef for Danny Meyer's catering company, Hudson Yards.

My dream is to walk around the world. A smallish backpack, all essentials neatly in place. A camera. A notebook. A traveling paint set. A hat. Good shoes. A nice pleated (green?) skirt for the occasional seaside hotel afternoon dance.

I don't want to trudge up insane mountains or through war-torn lands.
Just a nice stroll through hill and dale.

But now I walk everywhere in the city. Any city. You see everything you need to
see for a lifetime. Every emotion. Every condition. Every fashion. Every glory.
Text and photographs © by Jill Krementz
all rights reserved.
All italicized quotes are from Maira Kalman's book The Principals of Uncertainty. Her punctuation remains intact. Published by The Penguin Press in 2007.