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40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
on May 25, 2010
From the minute I opened this book I felt the need to start creating. I love her work, The Principles of Uncertainty is in my all time top ten, and The Elements of Style have style to spare with her illustrations. And don't miss the blogs she's done for the New York Times.

The beauty of this particular book is that it covers years of her work and more details of her life. It's simply wonderful and I can't tell you how much it's worth owning and being able to pick up and enjoy any time.

I usually go on for paragraphs in review, but really, it's a book you have to hold and open and look at for yourself. Incidentally, if you are familiar with the Max books, and some of her intelligently, but wildly sane, loopy drawings, take a look at some of the work here - she can draw the way you are "supposed" to do it - thank goodness she draws the way Maira Kalman sees the world. My heart is full from reading it - and I'm out of words. A book to love and treasure - that covers it.
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on May 24, 2010
I am overwhelmed with gratitude as I write this. Gratitude that I know of Maira Kalman, and that this book exists.

This is my favorite of all books by or about Maira. Ever since I happened upon "The Principles of Uncertainty" -- that very first entry that begins with an angel (an angel!) and Hallelujah... Which sang right to the depth of my heart and offered page down after page down of sheer rapture... Remember the image of the helicopter that took Bush away on Inauguration Day, with the caption ... "at last"... That blog entry is one of the greatest cultural discoveries of my life. The joyous merging of personal and political, playful & astute absolutely had me by the heart and I was in heaven. I followed breathlessly as blogs followed about Lincoln, the judicial system, Alice Waters... Thrill after thrill.

When I discovered Maira, I became voracious and bought and ate up all her work. What I love about this book in particular, first of all, is its formatting. The size is larger than I expected from the Amazon preview (10.5 x 8.8). The illustrations are perfect size, not too blown out nor too small to see. There is a nice pacing, usually 2 images per spread, not overwhelming, offering perfect detail in sumptuous color. This process could have gone wrong at one of many points, but the paper, the printing, the color, everything has turned out perfectly (we can all probably recall books on beloved artists where the color is ever so slightly off, but enough to make them unpalatable). The paper is also FSC certified, which I appreciate. Nice heavy semi-gloss stock. A+ on printing.

The text is by Ingrid Schaffner of the Institute of Contemporary art at UPenn. Not too much text. Perfect. Loved what she had to say. Not too academic or effete. Approachable. There are also contributions by other curators that are similarly engaging. The copy is nicely woven into the spreads around the images. The book is mostly about displaying the images, with the copy helping, adding detail, illuminating the story of how an illustration came about.

Truly a marvel of a book on all counts.

It's really an exhibition catalog, so besides reproductions of illustrations, embroidery, textiles and other 2-d work by Maira, the book also includes photos of the installations, where objects from Maira's studio participate in creating a space of discovery and whimsy.

My favorite images (though nearly impossibly hard to choose a favorite) would be one of the embroideries on p. 30: "My rigid heart is tenderly unmanned" ... it's a most beautiful creation, as I'm sure you can imagine.

The variety of characters that fill Maira's world are personas that may otherwise be seen as geeks or losers or old farts. { :) } She portrays them with so much love that I am absolutely flabbergasted. Goose bumps cover me as I turn page after page. There is so much love here. So much compassion. Old fat women with gigantic skewed bows in their hair, a dead man, the grevious and stoic Pina Bausch (god rest her most beautiful soul) appears with her eyes closed, perhaps a hint to her rich inner world and restless spirit. And then we have Matisse... And Matisse is pictured from his (fat, fat) back, facing a buxom woman, and of course the woman is wearing a hat... There is so much joy and love here, and so much that will reach out to people of all walks of life. Thank you to UPenn and to all involved in putting together this volume. Most of all, gratitude, love, and right now, happy tears, to beautiful, beautiful Maira. If you read this, Maira, I love you.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on November 18, 2010
Having followed Kalman's work in the New York Times, I found this book simply wonderful. Her creations often look simple and even primitive, but I know that if I tried to copy one of her pictures, I'd produce a hopeless mess instead of her graphically sophisticated art. From a kitchen sink to impressionistic "copies" of famous artworks, every painting is a treasure. If only my life had the simplicity, humor, style, and brilliance of Maira Kalman's work....
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on May 25, 2011
My son-in-law has a wish list on Amazon which helps so much when I am shopping for his birthday or Christmas.He uses it whenever he sees a book or product he likes.He is a graphic artist and he was thrilled with this book.Not only did he thank me for the gift at the time I gave it to him,but I received 2 phone calls saying thank you. One from him and one from his 11 year old daughter ! She is as creative as he is,and the book now has a permanent home on their coffee table !!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on November 8, 2012
I feel a special kinship for Maira Kalman because, on the surface, we are a lot alike. She's only a little younger, grew up much as I did and shares a passion for NYC, and has a similar heritage. There the similarity, sadly, ends: she's a creative genius with phenomenal artistic talent. I am not.
What I am is an individual that cherishes such talent. I get her humor, I so much appreciate her idealism, I adore her quirky view of the world. I've got all her wonderful books and after seeing [twice] the retrospective of her work at both the San Francisco and New York Jewish Museums, I had to have this book that provides such a perfect overview to her intriguing persona.
I cannot draw more than a couple of lines together, and these intersect in strange places, but Maira Kalman also reminds me that we all have our talents, and lack of, and what matters is the intrinsic value we add to the planet. And where we fit in a world of collective images and personas. Thus, this is the book prominently placed on the coffee table [with my New Yorkers pile and a few other visually fabulous picture books] and page through now and then, each time as if I've never seen it before. Always fresh and funny and touching and, yes, brilliant.
I am not prone to hyperbole, truly, I save my accolades for the exceptionals, like Joni Mitchell, another creative genius, and Ken Robinson, whose just plain fascinating. Maira Kalman is right up there at the top of this exalted list. In fact, she would sit at the head of my fantasy dinner party table. Across from Joni. And I would want to sit next to her - that says it all.
Great book to own and give.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 14, 2014
I love Maira and have been her fan for 15 years. Wow! Time flies! And, I just bought this book because I knew I would spend time devouring each page. But I have to say the print quality is poor and I'm kind of disappointed. But the writing is interesting & love reading about her history.
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on March 13, 2015
Since I started painting again, my mind is loaded with wonderful ideas. I do have new emerging ideas everyday and I feel very happy. This book is wonderful and very well written for those who also love this author. I will recommend it.
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on October 28, 2014
I collect this illustrator's work, so I am thrilled with this book. This book is actually a museum catalog so there is a depth of information that was unexpected.
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on August 27, 2015
if you love Maira, you'll love this book. Illustrations are beautifully done and her gouache artwork is superb
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on September 24, 2013
I have several Maira KailMAN books. This one is so fun and , like her, so unique and beautiful. Thanks!
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The Principles of Uncertainty by Maira Kalman (Paperback - October 27, 2009)

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And the Pursuit of Happiness by Maira Kalman (Paperback - October 30, 2012)

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