Summer 2010

Maira to the max

Maira Kalman: Various Illuminations

Prestel, £19.99

The illustrative art of Maira Kalman (see Reputations, Eye 47) has a special place in designers’ hearts – for her ‘New Yorkistan’ map made with Rick Meyerowitz as a New Yorker cover; for her smart children’s books (including the ‘Max’ series); and for her long partnership with the late Tibor Kalman – Maira was the ‘M’ in M&Co. Maira Kalman: Various Illuminations (Prestel, .95 / £19.99) is the catalogue to a touring exhibition that opened in January at the Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania and ends in New York next Summer.

Both book and show bring together many facets of her life and work: portraits (Pina Bausch, Laurie Anderson); shrewd urban observations like her Crosstown Boogie Woogie (1995) of subway-riding archetypes; and eccentric collections such as her Mosses of London Island.

Various essays (of varying clarity) by friends and admirers run dog-legged around crisp and colourful reproductions of Kalman’s pictures, and the catalogue ends on two high points. A visual essay of installation pictures both wide and close-up, shows shoes, boxes, index cards, onion rings and M&Co watches mixed up with the artwork displayed on the gallery walls. And the catalogue ends with a charming and informative ‘Chronology’, set in Zuzana Licko’s Mr Eaves and annotated by Maira Kalman in her eccentric handwriting.

First published in Eye no. 76 vol. 19 2010


Eye is the world’s most beautiful and collectable graphic design journal, published quarterly for professional designers, students and anyone interested in critical, informed writing about graphic design and visual culture. It is available from all good design bookshops and online at the Eye shop, where you can buy subscriptions and single issues.