Explore the World of Maira Kalman

Exhibit closes July 31. Don’t miss it!!

I was first introduced to the art and wit of Maira Kalman when I bought the book, “Sayonara Mrs. Kackleman,” to read aloud to my children. They were enchanted, and I fell in love with Kalman’s quirky visual and verbal style and her singular view of the world.

Since then I’ve continued to be surprised and delighted by Maira Kalman’s covers for The New Yorker. Who can forget the cover she drew right after 9/11 — how she made us laugh at a sad and scary time.

What a treat, then, to visit The Jewish Museum on Fifth Avenue in New York City, for the very first museum survey of Maira Kalman’s art. This is a lush collection of original gouache drawings and paintings, mostly small. But as small as these drawings are, that’s how dense they are with color and content. Some will delight you after just a quick glance; others will compel you to linger and study up close. You’ll be intrigued by odd characters, human and canine, that float in space as in Chagall paintings, uttering or captioned by ironic pronouncements. At first, you may wonder how Kalman’s strangely sophisticated world could appeal to children, but I think that by the time you leave, you’ll say to yourself, “Of course!!” So bring your reading glasses and try to visit the museum when the crowds are thinnest.

After you view the drawings and the artifacts that Maira Kalman has collected to display in the exhibit, stop to watch the video of Kalman’s 2007 “TED Talk.” Or better yet, watch it now:

The show is on view now through July 31 at The Jewish Museum, Fifth Avenue at 92 Street in Manhattan. The museum is open 11 am to 5:45 pm every day except Wednesday, and on Thursday it is open until 8 pm.

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