Maira Kalman’s Colorful, Whimsical World Comes To Life In New High Exhibit

The work of artist Maira Kalman is on display in a new exhibit at the High Museum of Art. The exhibit, “The Pursuit of Everything” is on view until Sept. 15. It includes works like this cover illustration for Kalman’s book, “Next Stop, Grand Central.” (Courtesy of The High Museum of Art)

Artist Maira Kalman’s greatest source of inspiration is both simple and vast: anything and everything she encounters in the world around her.

“I don’t need any imagination. I always say, what do I need imagination for when it’s all completely in front of me every single day,” she said.

Whether it’s a piece of cake, a person she passes on the street or her dog, Pete: Kalman says her everyday life fills her with more than enough excitement to fuel her work.

That endless inspiration comes to life with Kalman’s whimsical, colorful and enchanting art. Which is on display in a new exhibit at the High Museum of Art, “The Pursuit of Everything.”  It’s on view until Sept. 15.

Kalman is perhaps best known for her colorful and quirky covers of The New Yorker. But she has a vast portfolio. She’s been telling stories in both writing and illustrations for more than 30 years.

Including having published more than a dozen books for adults and 18 children’s books.

Over the years, Kalman’s work has been cover art for The New Yorker. (Photo by Courtney Kueppers)

The New York-based artist says there’s a certain “freedom” in making work aimed at children.

“The good thing about working for children is you’re allowed to be smart and you’re allowed to be stupid and that’s an incredible relief, because you really just can’t be smart all the time,” she said coyly.

Although, she maintains “the best children’s books are as appealing to adults as they are to children.”

“There is no talking down to children or up to adults, it’s really just telling your story as honestly as you can, with humor hopefully sprinkled in,” she said at a media preview of the exhibit.

Artist Maira Kalman speaks at a media preview for the new exhibit at the High featuring her work. (Photo by Courtney Kueppers)

The display includes more than 100 works, including drawings, paintings, personal books and manuscripts. There’s even a replication of Kalman’s studio.

“Even though I know I have deadlines, I know I have things to accomplish, I also have time to wander around and to be surprised and enchanted by what I see literally everyday on the street in front of me wherever I go,” she said.

“There’s always material everywhere you look.”


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