Maira Kalman

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Maira Kalman
Maira kalman 2010.jpg
Kalman at the 2010 Texas Book Festival
Born 1949 (age 68–69)
Nationality American
Known for Illustrator, writer
Spouse(s) Tibor Kalman (m. 1981, d. 1999)

Maira Kalman (Hebrew: מאירה קלמן‎; born 1949) is an Israeli-born American illustrator, writer, artist, and designer. Her work most widely held in WorldCat libraries is Fireboat: the heroic adventures of the John J. Harvey, a picture book she both wrote and illustrated. It won the annual Boston Globe–Horn Book Award for Nonfiction in 2003.[1]

Early life

Born in Tel Aviv, Kalman came to New York City with her family at age 4.[2] She attended the High School of Music & Art, now LaGuardia High School, where she studied art.[3]


At age 18, Kalman met designer Tibor Kalman and in 1979, they founded the design company M&Co. The firm grew to be highly influential, creating work for Interview magazine, Restaurant Florent, the band Talking Heads, and The Museum of Modern Art.[4]

Kalman published her first children's book in 1985, entitled Stay Up Late, which illustrated the lyrics of musician David Byrne. After Tibor's death in 1999, she began creatively asserting herself, writing more than 20 books over the years.[4]

Kalman has written a series of children's books about Max Stravinsky, the poet-dog. She has done covers for The New Yorker, including one she did with Rick Meyerowitz called New Yorkistan. She created the sets for the Mark Morris Dance Group production of Four Saints in Three Acts, an opera by Virgil Thompson and Gertrude Stein.

Kalman is also known for her illustrations for the 2005 edition of The Elements of Style, the popular guide to writing style, by William Strunk.[5]

Ms. Kalman wrote the monthly illustrated blog The Principles of Uncertainty for the New York Times for one year, ending in April 2007.[6] The blog was published in a book of the same title, which was released in 2007 to critical acclaim. During 2009, Kalman wrote another illustrated blog in the New York Times called "And the Pursuit of Happiness" about American democracy. The blog was published as a book in 2010. The first chapter chronicles her visit to Washington, D.C. for President Barack Obama's inauguration. Kalman's work is also featured on Rosenbach Museum and Library's 21st Century Abe project.

Kalman crafted the illustrations for author Daniel Handler's (a.k.a. Lemony Snicket) 13 Words in 2010 and Why We Broke Up in 2011.[7] The two went on to collaborate on a series of illustrated books published by The Museum of Modern Art. Exploring MoMA's collection of photography, Kalman and Handler composed three themed volumes that combined vintage photographs with Kalman's paintings and Handler's prose.

In 2017, she was awarded the AIGA Medal for her work in "storytelling, illustration, and design while pushing the limits of all three."[4]

In the summer of 2017 Kalman collaborated with choreographer John Heginbotham to produce a theatrical and dance interpretation of Kalman's blog, "The Principles of Uncertainty."[8] It debuted in late August at Jacob's Pillow, and had its New York premier at the Brooklyn Academy of Music Fisher in late September. Kalman performed in the piece, playing herself.[5]

Kalman is represented by the Julie Saul Gallery in New York City.[5]

Personal life

Maira Kalman was married to designer Tibor Kalman until his death in 1999.[4]



Sara Berman's Closet, in collaboration with Alex Kalman, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, NY[10]


Sara Berman's Closet, Mmuseumm, New York City, NY [11]


The Elements of Style, The Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville, TN

Thomas Jefferson Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Everything, Monticello, Charlottesville, VA

Girls Standing on Lawns and Other Projects, Julie Saul Gallery, New York, NY


What Pete Ate from A to Z, Madison Children’s Museum, Madison, WI


37 Paintings, Julie Saul Gallery, New York, NY


25 Years/25 Artists, Julie Saul Gallery, New York, NY

Storied City: New York in Picture Book Art, Katonah Museum of Art, Katonah, NY


Various Illuminations (of a Crazy World), The Jewish Museum, New York, NY;[12] Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, CA

Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco, CA; Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA


Further Illuminations, Julie Saul Gallery, New York, NY


The Principles of Uncertainty, Jackson Fine Art Gallery, Atlanta, GA


The Elements of Style, Memorial Art Gallery, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY

The Principles of Uncertainty, Jackson Fine Art Gallery, Atlanta, GA


Just Looking, Beihang University, Beijing, China


The Principles of Uncertainty, Julie Saul Gallery, New York, NY


I Can’t Stand All the Excitement, Julie Saul Gallery, New York, NY


Just Looking, Julie Saul Gallery, New York, NY


  • Hey Willie, See the Pyramids (1988) Viking/Penguin ISBN 978-0-14-050840-6
  • Sayonara, Mrs. Kackleman (1989) Viking Kestrel/Penguin ISBN 0-670-82945-5
  • Max Makes a Million (1990) Viking/Penguin ISBN 978-0-670-83545-4
  • Roarr, Calder's Circus (1991) Delacorte Press/Bantam Dell/Random House ISBN 978-0-385-30916-5
  • Max In Hollywood, Baby (1992) Viking/Penguin ISBN 978-0-670-84479-1
  • Chicken Soup, Boots (1993) Viking/Penguin ISBN 978-0-670-85201-7
  • Ooh-la-la, Max in Love (1994) Viking/Penguin ISBN 978-0-14-055537-0
  • Swami on Rye: Max in India (1995) Viking/Penguin ISBN 978-0-670-85646-6
  • Max Deluxe (1996) Viking/Penguin ISBN 978-0-670-86837-7
  • Next Stop Grand Central (1999) Putnam/Penguin ISBN 978-0-399-22926-8
  • (un)Fashion (with her husband Tibor Kalman) (2005) Harry N. Abrams ISBN 978-0-8109-9229-0
  • What Pete Ate From A to Z (2001) Putnam/Penguin ISBN 978-0-14-250159-7
  • Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey (2002) Putnam/Penguin ISBN 978-0-399-23953-3
  • Colors: Tibor Kalman, Issues 1–13 (with her husband Tibor Kalman) (2002) ISBN 0-8109-0414-4
  • Smartypants (Pete In School) ISBN 0-399-23478-0
  • The Illustrated Elements of Style (with William Strunk, Jr. and E. B. White) (2008) Penguin ISBN 978-0-14-311272-3
  • The Principles of Uncertainty (2009) Penguin Press ISBN 978-1-59420-134-9
  • Various Illuminations (of a Crazy World) (2010) DelMonico Prestel München 2010 ISBN 978-3-7913-5035-6
  • 13 words (2010) by Lemony Snicket HarperCollins Children's Books ISBN 9780061664656
  • And the Pursuit of Happiness (2010) Penguin Press ISBN 978-1594202674
  • Food Rules (2011) by Michael Pollan Penguin Group ISBN 9781594203084
  • Looking at Lincoln (2012) Nancy Paulsen Books, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group ISBN 9780147517982
  • Girls Standing on Lawns (2014) by Daniel Handler Abrams Books for Young Readers ISBN 978-0-870-70908-1
  • My Favorite Things (2014) with the Cooper-Hewitt Museum, Harper Design, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers ISBN 9780062122971
  • Thomas Jefferson : Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Everything (2014) Nancy Paulsen Books, an imprint of Penguin Group ISBN 978-0-399-24040-9
  • Beloved Dog (2015) Penguin Press ISBN 9781594205941
  • Hurry Up and Wait (2015) by Daniel Handler Museum of Modern Art, New York ISBN 978-0870709593
  • Weather, Weather (2016) by Daniel Handler Museum of Modern Art, New York ISBN 978-1633450141
  • Cake (with Barbara Scott-Goodman) (2018) Penguin Press ISBN 9781101981542
  • Swami on Rye: Max in India NYR Children's Collection, 2018



  1. ^ "Kalman, Maira". WorldCat. Retrieved 2014-10-02.
  2. ^ Overview of Maira Kalman from Julie Saul Gallery
  3. ^ Master of the Month: Maira Kalman from
  4. ^ a b c d "2016 AIGA Medalist Maira Kalman". AIGA | the professional association for design. Retrieved 2017-04-13.
  5. ^ a b c Smith, Roberta (2017-08-17). "Maira Kalman's Irreverent Pictures for the Grammar Bible". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-12-26.
  6. ^ The Principles of Uncertainty from the New York Times
  7. ^ 13 Words. HarperCollins. 2010. ISBN 9780061664656.
  8. ^ "Illustrator Maira Kaufman Moving To The Stage With Choreographer John Heginbotham". Retrieved 2017-12-26.
  9. ^ "About | Maira Kalman". Retrieved 2016-06-26.
  10. ^ "Sara Berman's Closet". The Metropolitan Museum of Art, i.e. The Met Museum. Retrieved 2017-12-26.
  11. ^ Ryzik, Melena (2015-05-28). "Mmuseumm 2 to Open in TriBeCa, All 20 Square Feet of It". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-12-26.
  12. ^ "Maira Kalman: Various Illuminations (of a Crazy World)". The Jewish Museum. Retrieved 2017-04-26.
  13. ^ "Reviewed by Bruce Hale in New York Journal of Books". 2018-10-09. Retrieved 2018-12-12.

External links

  • Official website
  • Maira Kalman at TED
    • "The illustrated woman" (TED2007)
  • Maira Kalman at Library of Congress Authorities, with 31 catalog records
  • Maira Kalman in conversation with Paul Holdengraber at LIVE from the New York Public Library October 23, 2007
  • Maira Kalman's Image Gallery
  • Studio Visit: Maira Kalman, The Paris Review
  • Interview with Maira Kalman in Nashville Review
  • Ms. Kalman's biography
  • Heller, Steven (Spring 2003). "Maira Kalman, the surviving spirit of M&Co". Eye. Quantum Publishing. 12 (47). Retrieved 2010-01-03.
  • Ahora: Interview with Maira Kalman
  • "Maira Kalman: Various Illuminations (of a Crazy World)" Exhibition (2011) at the Jewish Museum, New York
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