Maira Kalman Selects
About Maira Kalman Selects
On view from December 12, 2014 to June 7, 2015
For this exhibition, author, artist, and designer Maira Kalman fills the former first-floor Drawing Room of the Carnegie Mansion, with 40 objects from Cooper Hewitt, the National Museum of American History, and her personal collection to suggest the journey of a life story, from birth through death.
Kalman is best known for her whimsical take on modern life. Here, she explores the human condition, presenting objects that create a picture of daily life as she sees it and lives it.
In her words, the exhibition is about “falling in love with a group of objects”; “the preciousness of time”; and the realization that “many of the most important memories in your life will be populated by the most seemingly unimportant objects. A chair. A bowl.”
And what does she suggest you do when you enter the exhibition? Just look. And listen. “To wander about in a room in a museum and to have the fluttery feeling of discovery and potential,” she says, “is a great feeling.”
Two new books authored and illustrated by Kalman complement the exhibition: My Favorite Things includes 50 images—some drawings, some photographs—based on the objects she selected for the exhibition, while the illustrations in the ABC book Ah–Ha to Zig–Zag celebrate thirty-one objects from Cooper Hewitt’s collection.
Some of the items on view include:
• Stockings, shoes, a hat, a teapot, samplers, and porcelain figures of ballet dancers
• Vintage editions of Alice in Wonderland and Winnie the Pooh
• The Gerrit Rietfeld Zig Zag chair (ca. 1934) and handkerchief memorializing Queen Victoria
• Abraham Lincoln’s funeral pall and gold pocket watch
Recorded sounds of the ticking pocket watch, which a master watchmaker repaired and briefly returned to working order, can be heard in the gallery.
Ah-Ha to Zig-Zag: 31 Objects from Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum is the 48-page catalog for this exhibition. Published by Skira Rizzoli. List price $17.95.
My Favorite Things, published by HarperCollins, offers a poignant, witty and highly personal meditation on the importance of objects, both quotidian and unusual, through more than fifty original paintings and Maira Kalman’s signature handwritten prose. List price $35.00.
Explore all the objects in the exhibition through our online collection interface.
Maira Kalman Selects is made possible by the Marks Family Foundation Endowment Fund.
Featured Image: Pocket watch, used by Abraham Lincoln. Interior, showing inscription.