My first introduction to Maira Kalman’s work was in the early 90s, with the splendid OOH-LA-LA (MAX IN LOVE), which Kalman both wrote and illustrated. It’s the kooky story of Max Stravinsky, “dog poet of New York,” who while in Paris, falls madly in love with “that divine dalmatian,” Crepes Suzette, chanteuse at the Crazy Wolf nightclub. I couldn’t decide which I liked best: the sumptuous art or the yummy text--a Parisian waiter introduces himself as "Fritz from the Ritz which I quit in a snit when the chef in a fit threw escargot on my chapeau and hit my head with a stale French bread." I dare you to say that quickly, five times.
Ah, but the illustrations! Some resemble the paintings of French artists, seen through Kalman’s wonderfully skewed perspective; others are looped through with text (which you will definitely want to read aloud); and all evoke the wonders and wonder of Paris.
Through the years, Kalman has captivated us with her unique viewpoint on a variety of subjects. She took on E.B. White’s beloved ‘The Elements of Style,’ in THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE ILLUSTRATED; offered a “wonderfully idiosyncratic meditation on democracy” in AN THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS, which appeared first as a 12-part blog in The New York Times; and participated in several collaborations with Daniel Handler, including GIRLS STANDING ON LAWNS and WHY WE BROKE UP. Throughout, she has continued to provide illustrations for publications ranging from The New Yorker to Mindful, and designed sets and costumes for the Mark Morris Dance Company and fabric for Isaac Mizrahi.
I’m glad to say that, to our great benefit, Kalman shows no signs of stopping. Join us in welcoming her to Malaprop’s when this wildly-talented artists visits us on Wednesday, March 14 to discuss her work and life.