(of a Crazy World)
January 15—June 6, 2010
The ICA presents Maira Kalman: Various Illuminations (of a Crazy World), the first major museum survey of the work of Maira Kalman. An illustrator, author and designer, Kalman illuminates contemporary life with a profound sense of joy and unique sense of humor. Like a gift, her work appears to lift the spirits, no matter how ordinary or overwhelming circumstances may be. This exhibition features a selection spanning thirty years of original works on paper and design production, along with less widely seen aspects of Kalman's work in photography, embroidery, textiles, and performance. As a context for this survey, Kalman is creating a special installation. The space will be furnished with chairs, ladders, and "many tables of many things"—such as fezzes, bobby pins, balls of string, things that have fallen out of books, lists, moss. Expressive of Kalman's habits as a collector, traveler, reader, and avid walker, this installation offers a view of how she sees the world, both in and outside of the studio.
Maira Kalman (b. 1949 Tel Aviv) has lived in New York since the age of four. She received no formal training as an artist and identifies herself as an illustrator.
Indeed just as Saul Steinberg's graphic art iconically depicted a postwar generation, so does Kalman's reflect the idiosyncratic style and substance of life today. A generation grew up reading Oooh-La-La (Max in Love), the adventures of Max Stravinsky the Parisian dog poet and one of Kalman's twelve books for children. Countless adults sport the M&Co. wristwatches she designed in collaboration with Tibor Kalman as part of a line of accessories for the Museum of Modern Art, New York. (Her late husband named his company for the "M" in Maira.) Even our mental image of Manhattan seemed different after her map of "Newyorkistan" (with cartoonist Rick Meyerowitz) appeared in December 2001 on the cover of The New Yorker; a welcome burst of humor after the tragic events of 9/11. In April 2007, she completed a yearlong series of columns for The New York Times, since published as the book The Principles of Uncertainty. She has created an illustrated edition of the classic reference Strunk and White's The Elements of Style; designed fabrics for Maharam and for the fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi; created sets for the choreographer Mark Morris; and collaborated with composer Nico Muhly on a site-specific opera for the New York Public Library. In Philadelphia, The Rosenbach Museum and Library has commissioned her to be one of the respondents to their outstanding Lincoln collection for a web project called "21st century Abe" in 2009.
This exhibition is curated by ICA Senior Curator Ingrid Schaffner, and will be accompanied by a fully-illustrated catalogue (co-published with Prestel).
This exhibition is one of the Independent Projects affiliated with Philagrafika 2010, a citywide festival celebrating print in contemporary art.
TRAVEL DATESFollowing its premiere at ICA, the exhibition will travel to Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco (July 1-October 26, 2010); Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles (November 16, 2010-February 13, 2011); and The Jewish Museum, New York (March 11-July 31, 2011).
ICA gratefully acknowledges Leonard and Louise Riggio and The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. for generous support of this exhibition. ICA acknowledges Barbara B. & Theodore R. Aronson for their sponsorship of the exhibition catalogue. We are also grateful for the support of Mari & Peter Shaw, Carol T. & John G. Finley, BZ & Michael Schwartz, Erica & Eric Schwartz and Anthropologie, Inc. Additional funding has been provided by the Barbara & Richard S. Lane Fund; Howard A. Silverstein & Patricia B. Silverstein Exhibition Endowment Fund; Joan & Hyman Sall; The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation; the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Council on the Arts; The Dietrich Foundation, Inc.; the Overseers Board for the Institute of Contemporary Art; friends and members of ICA; and the University of Pennsylvania. ICA is also grateful to The Chodorow Exhibition Initiative Fund for support of this exhibition’s tour. ICA also thanks the Julie Saul Gallery for in-kind support.
images: Self-portrait (with Pete), 2004-5, gouache on paper, 16 x 15 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Julie Saul Gallery, New York...Crosstown Boogie Woogie, 1995, gouache on paper, 15 3/8 x 11 1/2 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Julie Saul Gallery, New York...The Glass House, 2004-05, gouache on paper, 9 x 11 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Julie Saul Gallery, New York.