Everyone loves Maira Kalman. She’s the cool aunt in the city that teenage kids run away to when they decide that their parents are hopelessly square. She’s embodies the civilized, thoughtful and sentimental qualities particular to New York City. You just want to take her to coffee and never come back. Conference organizers know this.
Maira was the M in M&Co and, while it is difficult to define each individual’s contribution to the output of the firm based on design credits alone, her illustration and inspiration crop up again and again throughout the M&Co and Colors years. With the death of husband and professional partner, Tibor, from non-Hodgkins lymphoma in 1999, Maira has simultaneously kept his work in the public eye and established herself as a beloved New York cultural icon and, in diverse media, one of the most respected artists working in America today.
Grand Central Station Mural: 1999
The breadth of Kalman’s interests and talents is awesome, ranging from brilliant children’s books, covers for the New Yorker, theatrical set designs, and a mural in Grand Central Station, to an entirely unpredictable bestseller in the form of an illustrated edition of Strunk and White’s Elements of Style, and a newly launched New York Times illustrated blog, And the Pursuit of Happiness, following on the success of her earlier blog, The Principles of Uncertainty, published as a highly acclaimed book in 2007.
What Pete Ate from A-Z
Smartypants (Pete In School)
? 2003: Maira Kalman
Typical of Kalman’s children’s books, the Pete series is so universal and yet so intensely personal that it’s hard not to feel like you’ve lived next door to Pete and the gang for years. What Pete Ate ranks as one of the most original and delightful alphabet books ever written and Smartypants (Pete in School) captures a child’s view of school as intensely exciting while being fraught with potential social disaster. (2003: Puffin Books; ISBN 978039923362351699 & 2003: Putnam Juvenile; ISBN 0399234780)
I was out walking the dear dog (who is a sweet meal ticket – two books about him, one New Yorker cover and a back page) and I saw 500 things that made me want to make art. – MK
Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of John J. Harvey
? 2005: Maira Kalman
Among the most astonishing and heartbreaking children’s books ever written. An extraordinary tale of the heroism of ordinary people and the potential for seemingly trivial efforts and acts of kindness to be important beyond reckoning. We won’t even try to summarize here. (2005: Puffin Books; ISBN 0399239537)
Next Stop Grand Central
? 2001: Maira Kalman
Grand Central is the functional heart of the greatest city of the Twentieth-Century. A wonder made all the more wonderful because it is so much more than a wonder. Here Kalman offers a passionate celebration of “the busiest, fastest, biggest place there is.” (2001: Puffin Books; ISBN 069811888x)
What Pete Ate from A-Z: $20.95
Smartypants (Pete In School): $23.95
Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of John J. Harvey: $25.50
Next Stop Grand Central (paper only): $9.99
Elements of Style
? 1959 (2005): William Strunk, E. B. White & Maira Kalman
This classic manual has conveyed the principles of plain English style to millions of readers. So what would possess an artist to illustrate the work and then spend several years in an effort to convince first, the original publisher and later, the authors’ estates to allow its publication? And why is the result so bizarrely engaging? (2005: Penguin Books; ISBN 1594200696)
Principles of Uncertainty
? 2007: Maira Kalman
Principles originally ran from May of 2006 to April of 2007 as an illustrated blog on the New York Times Op-Extra page. Like peeking into your favourite artist’s personal sketchbook, this sequence of thematic visual studies defies easy classification. It is a sort of stream-of-consciousness, existential meditation on life and death, love and loss. (2007: Penguin Press; ISBN 9781594201349)
Elements of Style: $34.95
Principles of Uncertainty: $35.50
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