Walking with Maira Kalman


Friday, March 25, 2011

The artist and illustrator Maira Kalman has produced countless magazine covers, written a dozen books for children, and produced a great visual blog for the New York Times site. The first museum survey of Kalman's work has been traveling the country and it’s up now at New York's Jewish Museum. Kalman gets many of her ideas from taking walks. Everywhere she goes — and she travels a lot — all kinds of unusual people and their hats and shoes and pets are constantly catching her eye. Kurt Andersen took Kalman for a stroll on an obscure old lane in Lower Manhattan: Nassau Street. (Originally aired: December 14, 2007)




Slideshow: Maira Kalman — 30 Years on the Hunt for Art

Maira Kalman

Illustrator, author, and designer Maira Kalman finds inspiration in unlikely places, often by just walking around the city. In 2007, Kalman and Kurt Andersen spotted this beaded bunny at Tansey Tang, a jewelry and gift shop on Nassau Street in New York City.

Maira Kalman

These androgynous mannequins were in one of the many shop windows on Nassau Street.

Maira Kalman

A coffee shop on Nassau Street. Look closely in the mirror, and you’ll see Maira Kalman and Kurt.

Maira Kalman

Kalman often takes photos of interesting people she sees on her walks, like this woman in a party hat.

Maira Kalman

Kalman then uses the photos as inspiration for her paintings and drawings.  This one appeared in her book, Principles of Uncertainty (2007).

Maira Kalman

Another image from Principles of Uncertainty.

Courtesy of Maira Kalman

Self-Portrait (with Pete), 2004-5, gouache on paper

The first museum survey of Maira Kalman’s narrative art – Kalman: Various Illuminations (Of A Crazy World) – is on display at The Jewish Museum in New York City through July 31, 2011.

Collection of Erica and Eric Schwartz

Maira Kalman and Rick Meyerowitz, New Yorkistan, cover illustration for The New Yorker, 2001, gouache and pencil on paper

Maira Kalman’s exhibit at The Jewish Museum features 30 years of her illustrations for publication. This is a preliminary sketch of Kalman’s well-known “New Yorkistan” cover for the December 10, 2001 issue of The New Yorker.

Collection of Catherine Hong and David Ferris

London Blitz, 2007, gouache on paper

Kalman approaches her art as a type of journalism, capturing life's small pleasures as well as the pain of loss and memory.  

Courtesy of Maira Kalman

New York, Grand Central Station, 1999, gouache and ink on paper

This image of Grand Central Station was part of a commissioned series for the terminal.

Courtesy of the Maira Kalman and Julie Saul Gallery, New York

Emily Dickinson, 2008, gouache on paper

Courtesy of Julie Saul

Sunny Day at Park, 2004, gouache and pencil on paper

Courtesy of Maira Kalman

Walter Benjamin, 2007, gouache on paper

Collection of Jane and Patrick Curley

Le Corbusier Sink, 2006, gouache on paper

Courtesy of Maira Kalman

Rajastani Room, 2004-2005, gouache on paper

Courtesy of Maira Kalman

Maira Kalman, Woman with Face Net, 2000, gouache on paper

Courtesy of Maira Kalman

The Temple of Isis, 2004-2005, gouache on paper

Collection of Barbara Becker and Chad Gallant

Keep Calm, 2007, gouache on paper

    Music Playlist
  1. Kamera
    Artist: Wilco
    Album: Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
    Label: Nonesuch
    Purchase: Amazon
  2. Funky Nassau Pt. 1
    Artist: The Beginning of the End
    Album: Funky Nassau
    Label: Scorpio
    Purchase: Amazon
  3. Morning (from "Peer Gynt)
    Artist: London Symphony Orchestra
    Album: London Symphony Orchestra Plays Great Classics
    Label: K-tel
    Purchase: Amazon


Maira Kalman

Comments [7]

JURM Ben ISman - Giovanni Ioannoni from Roma ( provincia ) Italy

Con la presente Creazione del Sogno aggiornato del nostro Unico Creatore L’Iddio Uno, trasmesso al suo umile tramite strumento, avviene l’ulteriore suo sviluppato sogno come aggiornamento in attuazione, ma il Mondo degli Umani non se ne avvede o fa finta di non volersene avvedere.


JURM Ben ISman – Giovanni Ioannoni


Giovanni, non era il discepolo che Gesù amava ?

Giovanni , annunciò il Figlio dell’Uomo e l’ultimo Giovanni
scrisse l’adempimento.

L’Amore di DIO è rimasto ancora in me, per Grazia ricevuta
e per Disegno Divino.

Pur consapevole di essere indegno e inadeguato All’Immane
Compito del Disegno Divino Affidatomi, mi rimetto nelle
mani del Signore Gesù Cristo e della Santissima Vergine Maria
Madre di DIO.

Giovanni, sa di Essere a loro Cura e Protezione a loro cura e Protezione Giovanni, sa di Essere.

JURM Ben ISman – Giovanni Ioannoni



Oct. 23 2011 08:40 PM
Lisa Giordano from Brooklyn, NY

A great lady of design.

Mar. 31 2011 11:24 AM

I loved this piece, and I love Maira Kalman's approach to art. I especially appreciated her saying to Kurt, "nothing is too low or too high," (to consider) during their stop at a Dunkin' Donuts.

I just finished a unit on poetry with my class (I teach English Lit at Northampton Community College, in PA) in which we discussed how contemporary poets choose everyday objects as the subjects of their poems, and through their skill and imagination create beautiful art. Just as Maira does.

A wonderful example of this, is a poem by Julia Alvarez called "Ironing Their Clothes." Find it, read it, enjoy it. You won't be disappointed.


Mar. 31 2011 12:28 AM
Liz from Washington, DC

@Julia, the song is "Kamera" by Wilco from their album "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot."

I loved this story! I've been amused, amazed, and moved by Maira's series "And the Pursuit of Happiness" over the last few years. Hearing about her daily walk through the city was fascinating. I'm not a painter, but I'm also struck by odd and interesting people, places, and things -- the peculiar details of everyday life that catch my eye.

Mar. 27 2011 11:59 PM
julia from Lake Placid, NY

What band/song was that little music snippet after Maira piece?

Mar. 27 2011 04:34 PM
tara from williamsburg, brooklyn

always love hearing maira. what a creative lady. she could have her own show.

Mar. 27 2011 03:06 PM
Julie from Omaha NE

Great piece today!

Mar. 27 2011 12:10 AM

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