Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Maira's World

Edith Sitwell

As if you really need me to tell you to go see the Maira Kalman show that’s now up at the Jewish Museum in New York.

New Yorkistan

There will be work you know (whether you know it or not).

Pina Bausch

And work you’ll wonder why you’ve never seen before.

But the paintings are only part of the story. The show of some 100 artworks is part retrospective, part installation.

Herring and Philosophy Club

So not only do we get to see the lovely color and brushiness of Kalman’s gouaches in the flesh ...

we get to view treasured objects from her personal cabinet of curiosities.

Like the famous onion ring collection she assembled with her late husband, Tibor Kalman, along with other objects by the design duo.

MoMA Moves to Queens


Kalman’s influences—Steinberg, Matisse, Hockney, even Duchamp—waft through the airy galleries. You will meet her many literary and historic inspirations as well.

Kalman savors the perfection of
things as they are.

Be it a map of the U.S. drawn by
her immigrant mother …

A package tied with string …

Or a shoebox (size 7½ B) of mosses.

Lady Birley

Kalman uses fashion almost as a language, and with it, she communicates volumes. She is absolutely fluent in hats. Many wonderful hats appear throughout her work, along with shoes, stoles, lace collars and lingerie.

Pink Dress

And for goodness’ sake, where else will you find a pale salmon summer dress, embroidered with the first lines of Dante’s Inferno?

Maira Kalman: Various Illuminations (of a Crazy World)
The Jewish Museum, 1109 5th Ave at 92nd St., New York
Through July 31, 2011

Have you read Ken Johnsons’s sexist review of the show in the New York Times? I’d be interested in hearing what others thought about it.


  1. I hated the Times's review of the show. It was completely patronizing.

  2. Late to comment on this but I'll concur. Adore Maira. Adored the show (but wish they had included the text that accompanies her images). Totally loathed that review. Awful.


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