Maira Kalman

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Maira Kalman
Maira kalman 2010.jpg
Kalman at the 2010 Texas Book Festival
Born 1949 (age 68–69)
Tel Aviv, Israel
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



  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. 

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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