Here’s a routine that’s been in rehearsal in the wings of the museum for nearly two years now. It begins with you asking me what I’ve been working on. I say, “A Maira Kalman show.” You say, “Who’s Maira Kalman?” I say, “You know Maira Kalman, the illustrator.” Occasionally, the routine ends here, wreathed in smiles, while you say: “Oh! Maira Kalman, I love her work.” More typically, it continues with my answering your inquiring look. Maira Kalman is the author of twelve children’s books and creator of Max Stravinsky, the dog poet of Ooh-la-la (Max in Love). Among her adult classics is an illustrated edition of William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White’s timeless grammar The Elements of Style. Her book The Principle of Uncertainty is a series of picture essays, a memoir of thoughts and reflections à la Montaigne, but illustrated. (Incidentally, Montaigne was also sure that nothing in life is certain.) Kalman’s book is based on a yearlong column she created for The New York Times online.1 In December 2009, she completed a second column called “And the Pursuit of Happiness” about democracy and history in America. The series opens with her coverage of President Obama’s inauguration ceremony in Washington, D.C., and the handwritten word “Hallelujah!”

As an illustrator and writer, Kalman has done a lot of editorial work for the Times over the years, as well as for The New Yorker. Born in Israel in 1949, she has lived in New York since the age of four. Her most famous work is a cartoon map of New Yorkistan that shows the boroughs divided into tribes, like Pashmina on the Upper East Side, Taxistan in the Bronx, Irate and Irant in Brooklyn. It ran on the cover of The New Yorker in December 2001; in the midst of the aftermath of 9/11, it was many people’s first burst of laughter. It was pored over, quoted, analyzed, translated. (Did you know that Fashtoonks is Yiddish for stink?) In short, the map became a public distraction. As one commentator said of the panacea effect of New York’s Afghanization: “If the world gives you Kandahar and Chechnya, send them back Khandibar and Kvetchnya.”2

The New Yorkistan map is actually a collaborative work by Kalman with Rick Meyerowitz. A writer and illustrator who has contributed prolifically to National Lampoon since its inception, Meyerowitz is also a children’s book author. Since they met in 2000, the couple has created a number of illustrated editorials, my favorite being “Things to Do on Valentine’s Day,” which ran in the Los Angeles Times3; suggestions include “make up new nicknames” – Sprinkles and Caligula, for instance. Sweet. The New Yorker cover started as car-ride banter as they drove out of the city; Kalman called out “Bronxistan” and Meyerowitz responded, “Yes, but a small section of Bronxistan [is] called Ferreristan” after borough president Freddy Ferrer.4 (This tribe ultimately never made it onto the map.) To lay the terrain on paper, she did the pen and he the brush of the watercolor drawing. Universally known, the New Yorkistan map doesn’t register much name recognition; also obscure is the original context, since the map has since been widely disseminated as everything from a puzzle to a shower curtain. The general lack of correspondence between the illustrator’s reputation and her work only makes this exhibition project more gratifying. Because now it’s my opportunity to introduce you to one of today’s most idiosyncratic and revered creative artists.

Maira Kalman: Various Illuminations (of a Crazy World) is the first major museum survey of the work of Maira Kalman, whose narrative art illuminates so many aspects of contemporary life. Since the 1990s, her children’s books have been acclaimed for their syncopated nuttiness and sophistication. A dog named Max arrives in Paris and checks into the Bleu suite at the aromatic Miss Camembert’s hotel. The room is flatly drawn and dreamily composed, with objects floating across the picture plane and everything painted in an expressive palette of blues. Will children get the blue-period Picasso joke? Probably no more than they are likely to eat Camembert cheese. Indeed, so might parents be hard pressed to keep up with the verbal and visual fusillade of references to art, literature, music, movies, dance, architecture, design, and fashion that catapult Kalman’s books right off any shelf built to hold conventional genre. Although she emerged as a children’s author, Kalman’s audience today is largely adult. And though her style has become less cartoony and more painterly over time, her work’s appeal remains spontaneous. Apparently, exploding the modernist canon proves fun for all ages.

Packed with diverse cultural references, digressions, curlicues, and question marks, Kalman’s work seems quintessentially postmodern. And yet, there is nothing arch or ironic in, say, her portrait of Le Corbusier’s kitchen sink, which first appeared in her online column in November 2006. She later described seeing the sink as a “heart-stopping” moment, a moment she hoped to transmit to her reader through her work’s depiction as “an earnest and loving presentation to you of this thing that I fell in love with.”5 Kalman’s work is always colored by strong emotions, like love and loss – how empty stands Corbu’s sink – even while valorizing the most ordinary objects and moments of everyday life. We don’t see the studio in which one of the modern architecture’s great purists worked, but rather the porcelain fixture in which he washed his hands. Talk about truth to material. This light touch is typical of the humor that gives Kalman’s work its vitality and charm. Paradoxically, its lightness is also what gives her work that capacity to be so profoundly moving. As in medieval times, when gold was used to bring light to the pages of illuminated manuscripts, so today Kalman’s vaguely absurd illuminations bring daily exaltations to light.

Funny that a sink, or a hat, or a box can be so transcendent an image, but that’s an achievement of Kalman’s work: to surprise expectation. Consider her métier. Because it presumably bends to popular tastes and is crafted in response to a dominant text, illustration is traditionally regarded as a decorative form of picture making. (Never mind if the illustrator is also the author, especially if the readers are children; then we are talking seriously minor arts.) Well, so be it. By identifying herself as an illustrator, Kalman may eschew high art’s claims of cultural seriousness and name recognition, but the work is no less ambitious or authoritative, just truer to its own aspirations of creative freedom. As viewers, suffice to say, joy is where you find it – usually on the shelf right next to sadness.

I Saw Her

The current exhibition features one hundred original drawings and paintings that span thirty years of illustration for publication. Drawn largely from the artist’s studio and including a generous number of loans from private collections, the selection is composted thematically – as opposed to chronologically, stylistically, or by publication project. It begins and ends approximately with self-portraiture. The first picture is a pencil sketch of a girl wearing galoshes and a blue coat with a fur collar; she is faintly drawn on a pocket-size sketchbook page, inscribed with the words: “I saw her.” This modest work (with its whiff of menace) signals so much to follow, from Kalman’s journalistic approach to the act of voyeurism it sanctions. “There is a strong personal narrative aspect to what I do. What happens in my life is interpreted in my work. There is very little separation. My work is my journal of my life.”6 By the time we reach the last picture in the exhibition, we know that dog reading a book at the table, paw resting next to a strong cup of coffee, is also a self-portrait of Maira Kalman. We see her.

As beginning and end points, the two pictures – one a sketch the other a painting, both from the 1990s – bracket a selection that moves into the present, while showing a full spectrum of process in between. Preparatory drawings hang next to finished paintings on paper. There are traces of mechanical reproductions, such as Wite-Out erasures and scotch-taped additions, as well as marginal notes to printers and editors. Likewise, stylistic changes that occurred over decades jostle randomly from picture to picture. This corresponds with Kalman’s own tendency to work in a number of different styles and media at any given moment within a curatorial narrative, that unfolds, quickly and quixotically, along these pictorial lines: self-portraiture; family; dogs; writing, drawing, and mapping; cities. Pause for a glass of water. Resume: portraits of objects; landscapes; dreams; flowers; still life and food; interiors. Attention, when you get to the Rajastani room, keep your eye on the miniature portrait and jump-cut to Abraham Lincoln; faces, fashions, and uniforms; performances; art; books. What emerges is a sense of how consistently, Kalman has worked a full range of themes, while concentrating on certain images, to realize her idiosyncratic point of view. Another constant is chaos. Be is crazy and madcap, or simply devastating, chaos erupts from within and pressures against the exterior framework of Kalman’s world. Even as her work appears to hold it at bay, chaos ebbs without ever fully waning.

But this is just the beginning of what’s on view. Beyond the illustration for which she is best known, Kalman’s work in other media – photography, embroidery, textiles, and performance – is represented. So are books and other publications, as well as design objects. As a context for this sweeping total production, Kalman has created a special installation.The space is furnished with chairs, ladders, and “many tables of many things,” to quote Kalman, who has judiciously ransacked her own studio, household, basement, and storage to arrange it. Among the many things are fezzes, bobby pins, balls of string, lists, things that have fallen out of books, rubber bands. (Kalman is a cofounder with the artist Alex Melamid of the Rubber Band Society, which disbanded when the group became too popular.7) There are bits of moss tucked into envelopes that are neatly labeled in Kalman’s hand with the names of places such as Matisse’s grave, Marfa, Falling Water, Jerusalem, and Sissinghurst. Kalman’s collection is based on someone else’s she had found at an antique store. Hanging on a nearby wall is Kalman’s painting of the shoebox containing Mosses of Long Island. Why is this so tender an image? Perhaps it is its evocation of the word “amateur” – from the Latin “to love” – that ennobles every hobbyist pursuit to connect with the world in some small way. Some of the many things Kalman has collected are encased in two vitrines that were made years ago by her son, when he was thirteen. Painted blue, one of these vitrines holds a wooden box, painted black, made by her daughter when she was eight. All of it appears expressive of Kalman’s habits as a collector, traveler, reader, and avid walker. To wander amidst this theatrical tableau is to catch a glimpse of the world as Kalman sees it, both inside and outside the studio.


Another Studio looms large in the foreground, the revolutionary design firm of M&Co. Founded in 1979 by Maira Kalman’s late husband Tibor Kalman, M&Co’s challenging principles of un-design, blunt vernaculars, and socialist agendas are widely credited for having changed the look and profession of contemporary graphic art. For instance, Benetton’s Colors magazine, the firm’s most infamous work, emblazoned itself in mass cultural memory with in-your-face- portraits of Queen Elizabeth as a black woman and President Reagan scourged with the AIDS virus. Hip, humorous, radical, and angry, Colors delivered one-two graphic and political punch. Created to sell Italian sportswear, it was also rife with the contradictions of pairing a ‘“bad boy” designer with a corporate sponsor. That said, Colors was a first big gulp of multiculturalism and issues of globalism within the popular media. No wonder Maira called Tibor a “perverse optimist.” He called her “M” and named his company after her.

Tibor Kalman and Maira Berman met in 1968 when both were eighteen-year-old students on the verge of flunking out of New York University. Both were children of families who immigrated to the United States in the 1950s, which may explain a mutual love of things American – coffee shops in particular. In the background of Maira’s 1998 portrait of Tibor hangs a small, greasy trophy – Tibor collected onion rings – from the just recently closed Joe Junior, their favorite New York City neighborhood coffee shop. Another painting, a portrait of a Snickers bar, pays homage to Maira’s love of American snack foods. Growing up as outsiders, however, also means otherwise ordinary things and daily language may seem curious, alien, or just plain funny. This is how things often look as seen through the Kalman’s respective bodies of work, as if you are seeing something for the first time. (Look, a glass of water.) Jokes are also big.

As students, neither Maira nor Tibor trained in art or design, a lack that turned out to seem purposeful, given Tibor’s reputation for fearlessness and Maira’s hallmark naïveté. Not knowing the rules of how something should be done or should look leaves one free to make things up for one’s self. By encouraging each other to have the confidence to follow intuition, the Kalmans evolved creatively in a dialectical bond, as if by design. While Tibor as a young man was busy getting radicalized (he joined Students for a Democratic Society and cut sugar cane in Cuba), Maira says she was home “knitting sweaters for him. (Feminists hated us.).”8 However, what seemed like a conventional relationship from the outside was anything but, when one considers the work this partnership engendered.

Maira was never officially a part of M&Co, but at the same time she was intrinsic to it. No profile of the studio is complete without acknowledging her role. As design historian Steven Heller summed up: “Maira Kalman – as muse, sounding board, wacky-idea generator – has been instrumental in most of M&Co’s major projects.”9 Among the most beloved is a series of design objects that M&Co produced, including watches, clocks, paperweights. And among the most popular of these is the 10-One-4 watch. Now in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, it is based on a sketch Tibor spotted in one of Maira’s journals of a clock with a few random numbers sprinkled on the face.10

Even before Tibor started the studio, Maira was a contributor. For a guide to New York he designed in 1973, she wrote the text. Her vision rings clear in the introduction, which reads like a voice-over for her myriad illustrations of the city to come: “There’s nothing special about New York. Sure it’s the banking, finance, art, entertainment, media, trade capital of the world. So what? It’s just a façade. New York is really just a fascinating fabric of small towns. What’s nine million people but lots of humanity living together.”11 From New Yorkistan to Grand Central Station to Annual Misery Day Parade, it’s all in the script.

Among M&Co’s early clients was the musician David Byrne. For the cover of his 1981 solo record Three Big Songs, Tibor chose four doodlelike drawings by Maira. It was also Tibor who brokered Maira’s first children’s book into being. (“Schmuck, it’s time for you to do a book,” she says were Tibor’s exact words.12) Published in 1987 with text by David Byrne and pictures by Maira Kalman, Stay Up Late is a New Wave children’s books – and not just because the words are the lyrics for the anthem song by New Wave’s signature group Talking Heads, but because of the illustrations’ electrified compositions, synthetic colors, and big-shouldered, skinny-legged characters, waving noodlelike arms, mouths agape in jubilant ululations, while the whole family dances around a living room amidst bobbing bits of furniture, a tiny TV, and a pet robot. Even baby is geek chic with it’s itty-bitty green hair. Sound like the neighbors of one’s East Village heyday?

Maira Berman

For adults, Maira’s early illustration style was more on the punk side. Weasel Wendy, Imogen Placenta, Letita Air, and Maria Crass are among an irony-clad cast of characters that turn up in an undated illustration for National Lampoon.13 Kalman worked for the magazine as a pasteup artist from 1979 to 1981, while establishing herself as a freelance graphic artist. Her work of this period is signed with her maiden name, Berman. Another early colored-pencil drawing featured a blood-oozing suitcase in the center of a room full of dolled-up men. Well serving in the David Lynch-like drama, the floor pitches forward. More generally, however, this tipped-up perspective shows the world come unglued and things gone topsy-turvy. “I can see a crazy world…. It is a violent, comical and funny feeling,” she said in a 1983 interview.14 It’s also patently surreal.

Kalman’s pictorial space is dream space, wherein visual non sequiturs and stream-of-consciousness narratives are the disorderly order of the day – and, according to her, the everyday reality of life with children, which, by the time Stay Up Late was published, the Kalmans had two of: Lulu Bodoni (after a favorite typeface) and Alex Onomatopoeia (one of several middle names). “If you live with children, the kinds of conversations you have during the day range from the surreal to the mundane to the insane to the pedantic.”15 Following the successful collaboration with Byrne, Kalman went solo. Her next two books are discombobulating tales of adventure as told by a girl named Lulu to help her brother, Alex, fall asleep (or stay up late). The fictional children have a pet dog, Max, whereas their namesakes did not. (The Kalmans eventually did get a dog, whose appetites are the subject of another children’s book, What Pete Ate.) Real Kalman family travels are woven throughout these books. Sayonara, Mrs. Kackleman was published in 1989, the same year as Maira’s solo exhibition at the Ginza Art Space in Tokyo. Writing for the brochure, curator Hiroko Tanaka gently stirs, “You might feel a little awed or even frightened when an adult draws like a kid, since there is so little pretention.” She continues, “Her work is so unrestrained that you might even feel jealous.” And concedes, “Maira Kalman, your pictures are so crazy that everyone wants to hug them.”16


Max is me…

[but] People see a lot of themselves in Max.

Wry and sophisticated. Insecure and courageous.

Humanist and Irreverent.17

Swami on Rye finds the dog poet in India on a spiritual quest for the meaning of life – puppies, or, in other words, family. It is the penultimate of Maira’s books designed by Tibor with M&Co. The process was as intense as a tango, as he describes, “She would write the text and start to sketch, and I would sketch type over her pencil drawings… and she’d have to cut copy or I’d say, this type could go here and it’d be nicer if this character could raise their arms so we could tuck the type in their armpit. It was a completely integrated process, and there was lots of trust.”18

And lots of play with type, too. The couple drew, Maira says, from a “big library full of our favorite work of Dadaists and Futurists and lots of other ‘ists.’ And we both like the surprise of vernacular design and hand-lettered typography…. The text was a piece of the art.”19 Nowhere is this more apparent than in Roarr: Calder’s Circus, in which both the sense and the structure of the words on the page shimmy with movement and shimmer with sound, sounds like “Zing” that ping with echoes of some Futurist manifesto past.20

A planned-for children’s book that never came to be is “Max in Rome.”21 In 1993, Tibor sold M&Co to run Colors from Italy. For Maira, the deeply cultured city was Manhattan dolce – with the human kerfuffle of coffee shops only amplified by the marble interior of the espresso bar. For Tibor, the civilized place was too close to a standstill. After two years, suddenly it was imperative to return to America. Following a four-year battle with cancer, Tibor Kalman died on May 2, 1999. It had always been his wife’s habit to start the day reading the obituaries: “Well life is short and… being reminded of that every morning grounds me. Or gives me something kind of larger than life beginning – with my cup of coffee. And then you find out all kinds of fantastic tidbits about crazy things that people did. It’s a very emotional way to begin the day.”22 That Maira began the following year in a very emotional way is still an understatement, considering the obituary she wrote and illustrated for The New York Times Magazine’s January 2000 tribute to the notables who died in the previous year.

The piece appears as the magazine’s endpaper; small paintings illuminate the page. One shows Tibor floating in the Caribbean, where the family traveled to spend his last days together. Another shows Maira’s grandparents “floating in heaven watching.” She writes, “Tibor died in a whisper. The children and I went down to the ocean…. Swimming in a sea of tears, not comprehending how this extraordinary man, this life force, could die. I saw a fish…. Happily swimming alone. Fearless. ‘It’s Tibor,’ I shouted to the children. ‘Tibor is still here.’ You bet he is.”23

As personally devastating as it gets, the page is a prayer, a public offering of the solace to be found in life’s distractions. Which is not the same as distraction from life, but exactly the opposite. “How to live and how to die,” that’s what Kalman says occupies her thoughts all the time and every day, “and have some snacks and yell at my children.”24 Keeping things light, in light of the crushing void — and the chaos, depression, anxiety, nightmare, and worse that fill that void – is the meaning of finding distraction. And in Kalman’s work both the difficulty and imperative of doing so is right there on the page, along with the cakes, the kids, the family, the fish.

In the story of Maira Kalman’s life, Tibor is epic. And vice versa. Together for thirty-two years, each was integral to informing the other’s life, work, and identity. To Tibor’s politics with a capital P, Maira may have professed passionate indifference – “I approach everything from the personal point of view, and I reject everything that doesn’t interest me, politics being top of the list.”25 And yet, over the past decade, Kalman’s work has made her an increasingly public citizen, and through it, she has created a form of compassionate engagement through media culture that is the very core of Tibor Kalman’s activism by design.


Dreaming has always been a highly productive mode for Maira Kalman. Dreams provide her work with its surreal imagery and structure. And dreams literally provide passage into it: so many of her stories open with a dream sequence that segues seamlessly into Kalman’s skew on reality. Take her picture essay “Mad about the Met,” which begins with Kalman sleepwalking the halls of the Metropolitan Museum of Art: “Something is wrong. I am distraught. Unable to open my eyes. Blinded by the beauty. It is a tragedy.”26 The spell is broken by the splash of ice blue that is Ingres’ portrait of Princesse Albert de Broglie, allowing for Kalman’s highly subjective tour to begin. Among the highlights: run, don’t walk, to see the Manolo Blahnik boot with Damien Hirst dots in the Met’s Costume Institute, where Kalman confesses she can barely restrain herself from snatching the Schiaparelli Shoe Hat and making a break for it.

Other times, dreams are just there, like rooms we enter – sometimes unwittingly. Of a not particularly strange painting of a man and woman in a pink hotel room, she informs, “I had this dream [in Venice] I was wearing this fantastic green dress and looking out the window.”27 Capping off this (Maidenform) fantasy, she adds the bald man’s hair was also part of the dream. Dreams are signaled metaphorically by streams and rivers, which flow through Kalman’s pictures, turning landscapes into lyrical dreamscapes and interiors into anxious states of mind. That woman hovering in sleep above her bed might be less peaceful if she were aware of the creek running through the bedroom and that ominous suitcase on the shore/floor.28 Finally, dreams are destinations. The Céleste Hotel in Algiers, for instance, frequently turns up as a haven, even though Kalman only knows the place from a treasured vintage postcard, where it appears, like the past, as a place one can only visit in dreams.

Dreamy since childhood, Kalman jokes that she dreamed her way into college. At the high school for Music and Art, she had focused on music. An accomplished classical pianist and so-so accordionist, Kalman says music remains a major distraction and source of solace.29 Art had always been the domain of her sister Kika Schoenfeld, whose creativity was part of the family life Kalman considers formative, and whose inspiration is instrumental to this day. Enrolled at New York University, Maira was determined to become a writer and majored in English, briefly. “If I was there for eight minutes, that was a lot,” she says of her college career.30 Writing lots of bad poetry, she says, did teach her one thing: “That maybe if I drew what I was thinking, I would escape this horror of the word.”31 Not that drawing was necessarily an easier discipline, but what did work was merging the two into one fluid practice, a practice in which inscription, description, narrative, notation, quotation, painting, and poetry all flow from the same brush, the same pen, and occasionally from the typewriter. An IBM Selectric stands in her studio at the ready; she likes its conduciveness to “a lot of unexpected delightful mistakes.”32 Also at hand are needle and thread. Since 2005 Kalman has made embroidery on cloth an extension of her work on paper. (In her essay in this catalogue, Donna Ghelerter writes on these works in relation to embroidery traditions.)

One might say that Kalman approaches writing like drawing and drawing like writing. One thing clearly does lead to the other in her work. Spindly drawn objects, organized in a grid, appear to have the look of a mysterious alphabet or grammar. Kalman’s fondness for the alphabet is expressed by a number of works, including children’s books and a mural for P.S. 47 in the Bronx. In another ink drawing, columns of words and pictures create a kind of Rosetta Stone touchstone or index. A woman’s elegant profile in a plumed hat, “Spinoza,” what looks like a clown shoe (but is actually one of a pair Kalman owns, but has never worn, by the Japanese designer Junya Watanabe), “Cheeseburger,” “polished étagère,” and “Exaltations/Observations” are among the citations. An actual coatroom claim check (number 1) and toothpick are collaged to the paper, this drawing of many things.

Words become pictures in the rebuslike illustration for this jingle: “He meant to blow the saxophone, but man, he blew his nose instead, and his glasses flew off his head onto the bed.” And Kalman’s own decorative handwriting – “ an exaggerated version of my normal writing. I weep for the lost penmanship art”33 – illuminates many a drawing.34 Three of her favorite quotes – from Gustave Flaubert, Marcel Proust, and Sigmund Freud — appear penned on the gallery wall in this exhibition, turning its whiteness into a page. Printed words appear in her work as images in their own right. The British wartime slogan “Keep Calm and Carry On” comes back usefully into the wartime picture today.35


In Kalman’s works, the calligraphic hand turns readily to cartography. Of her many drawings of maps, the mother of them all is literally her mother’s hand-drawn map of the United States, which almam has reproduced as a painting. A blue bob with a little spigot (Long Island) holds a spattering of states, including “Pitzb.” – short for the city of Pittsburgh, which appears to be the new abbreviation for the state of Pennsylvania (where Maira Kalman’s exhibition is now taking place – in Philadelphia). The largest area is dedicated to “Sorry the rest unknown Thank you.” Making space for “Jerusalem” and “Lenin,” the mpa obviously charts a personal terrain.

“In the droshky town of Lenin (named after the Princess Lenina) on the bank of the river Slootch…lived my wild and beautiful mother,”36 begins a story that Kalman tells frequently through her work. Her mother, Sara Dolgin, grew up in a village in Russia and fled with her family to Israel to escape Jewish persecution. Kalman’s own story picks up here in 1949 to her refrain, “I was born in sunny, sandy, Tel Aviv”; in 1954 her family “moved to grey blue hard sizzling New York City.”37 Growing up in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, Maira and sister Kika enjoyed the benefits of their mother’s serious love of distractions. Through culture: there were piano lessons, dance lessons, museums (“she took us to a million museums”), concerts. Through food: there were snacks in bed (“trays of little blintzes and fluffy mini sour-cream pancakes. Sliced apples and pears”38) and meals in Manhattan restaurants. Through shopping: trips to Lord & Taylor and the mall. And through storytelling: “About Masheh the idiot, who always forgot to put his pants on. About Rifke the deranged…. About Zispa the thief… they made fun of EVERYONE. They were not mean, just sharp.”39 Her mother’s childhood stories are the stuff of Kalman’s work today. Masheh turns up as “Maisel Shmelkin” in Hey Willy, See the Pyramids. To spend time with Kalman’s work is to connect with family bonds and history, to love her mother’s nonjudgmental, free spirit and sense of humor, to mourn her death in 2004, and to appreciate her presence through Kalman’s work today. “If my mother comes to my house and is frying schnitzel and telling me a story, that ends up in my work. I want everything I do to be connected in an absurd, funny way.”40

Reflecting on her mother, Maira Kalman pauses to ask, “Where was her husband? My father, that is. Away, away, away. On business trips that lasted forever.”41 From Kalman’s online column, we learn something more: his wife did not love him when they married. In 1952 he fell off a second-floor terrace in Tel Aviv, and though unharmed, he later went crazy “Mein papi war verrukt,” she writes elsewhere.42 Pesach Berman’s absence is a disturbing presence in his daughter’s work. Only once in 2001 does she let it rip. It’s in the midst of a newspaper interview. She is one of several New Yorkers asked to recollect how their day began on September 11: “You heard me right, pal. Nazi Germany. I think these thoughts every single day of my life. Why? Because my father survived the Holocaust and his family did not.”43 To back up, Kalman says she started the day making a painting of a pickle label followed by a walk in Central Park. In other words, the daily drill, a drill that involved her constantly thinking: “I am a lucky dog because 1. I am healthy and 2. I am not in a concentration camp in Nazi Germany. You heard me right, pal.” These are heaving blessings to count.

Kalman’s disclosure is a lightning flash onto the impenetrable darkness of a crazy world. It also illuminates a sense of personal urgency in images already fraught with history. Once we get the drift of meaning from her musings on an old leather suitcase – one of ten stacked in her living room, including one that belonged to a man who fled Danzig, Germany, in 1939 – now suddenly all images of suitcases in her work are slammed shut around the story of her father’s family, their persecution by the Nazis, and their death in concentration camps. This story overwhelms everything, which is perhaps why Kalman keeps it tamped down. We hardly need to know because it already informs and even obstructs what we see. I tell you that the dead man in the snow is the Swiss writer Robert Walser, who may have committed suicide in 1956 when he fell asleep outdoors. But in Kalman’s picture, he falls before us, as if he had been shot while running across that snowy field. Following Kalman’s points of connection, it’s almost impossible not to see this fallen man figuring the fate of Walter Benjamin, the German-Jewish writer whose attempt to escape the Nazis ended with his suicide in a Spanish Pyrenees border town just short of reaching unoccupied territory.44 In Kalman’s portrait of him, we see Benjamin happy at his desk, where he wrote critical and illuminating essays about the modern conditions of mechanical reproduction, storytelling, collecting. The desk is graced with a vase of flowers.

Understanding the profound implications of Kalman’s elusive father, we turn with some relief to a straightforward father figure in her art. Mere mention of the name Saul Steinberg gets us back onto maps. In his cartoon View of the World from 9th Avenue, Manhattan appears, then Los Angeles, right next to the end of the world. China. That map is as iconic to the twentieth century as Kalman and Meyerowitz’s New Yorkistan is to the twenty-first. Steinberg’s, too, first appeared as a New Yorker cover, on March 29, 1976. Since the 1950s, his illustrations have been synonymous with the magazine’s sense of erudition and humor. One of Kalman’s earliest drawings, a typewriter surrounded by animated pieces of handwriting, pays explicit homage to Steinberg’s imagery of the desktop as a landscape, a creative terrain staked out by pencils, pens, bottles of ink, paper, postcards, stamps, and even pictures of his own drawings. And so does the exhibition installation of “many tables of many things” echo Steinberg’s sculptural studioscapes, which were constructed from cardboard and rendered with surreal precision to hover between trompe l’oeil and drawing. While the harmony between Kalman and Steinberg begins as something self-consciously studied on her part, it becomes a genuine correspondence between the work of two illustrators who transcend artistic categories. In 1978 the critic Harold Rosenberg organized a major exhibition of Steinberg’s work at the Whitney Museum of American Art. As he lauded Steinberg then, we laud Kalman now, as an “artist of the free imagination.”45

Freedom of Choice

The freedom not to differentiate between art and illustration is assiduously exercised by Kalman. Especially over the past decade, the context for her work seems to keep expanding along with its sources and influences. Some have remained constant. Besides Steinberg, she has long been a fan of William Steig (of Shrek fame) and Ludwig Bemelmans, who besides creating Madeline for children was a prolific essayist.46 Over the past decade, Kalman’s work has become increasingly painterly in style and editorial in content. As she writes up front of being dispatched by The New York Times: “If someone asks you to go to the couture shows in Paris, you don’t say ‘I have to stay home and darn my socks.’ You go.”47

Kalman’s editorial assignments have taken her into the worlds of fashion, travel, art, and architecture, and once there, she always makes time for her own pursuits. These pursuits take her off topic but they are tacitly understood to be part of the assignment. In Paris to cover the spring fashion shows for The New York Times, she painted the pink gown festooned with bells that Viktor & Rolf showed in their collection, as well as the Maison de Verre, designed by Pierre Chareau and one of the most exquisitely decorative works of modern architecture. Dispatched by Culture + Travel for a piece on Sissinghurst Castle, she did more than due diligence by the gardens. “You will lose your mind with joy — a very desirable state,” she writes of the White Garden, where all the flowers are white.48 She also kept in sight more private devotions. Her love of Winston Churchill is witnessed by a painting of the slippers that once held “his dear little feet.” The object of Vita Sackville-West’s great love is observed in the portrait of Virginia Woolf that sits on the desk in the tower library.

Kalman’s love of a particular thing or place sometimes appears to have delivered the assignment in the first place. For an online feature on Tel Aviv, her family ties and frequent visits inform an obvious affection for even the most vernacular Bauhaus-inspired architecture.49 Dislike is also part of the bargain. When The New Yorker sent her to the Venice Biennale, the citywide exhibition of contemporary art, her take was less enthusiastic: “The ART. There was so much of it you found yourself (and everyone) muttering, ‘I HATE ART.’”50 Perhaps it was just the circumstances. Kalman’s travel series for children presents a happy day of contemporary art with visits to see Walter de Maria’s New York Earth Room and Richard Serra’s spiraling sculptures. A trip to Krispy Kreme for donuts rounds out the day.

When a magazine sends Maira Kalman out into the field, they want her to bring back the digressions and impressions that make her work so singular. “Basically I get paid to be myself – and for my imagination. My job is to be as creative and as eccentric as I can possibly be, and my job changes every day because I’m obsessed with changes.”51 Of course, this sounds like a dream occupation, and Kalman readily concurs it is. At the same time, being oneself isn’t easy because it means figuring out who you are in the first place. Says Kalman, who has been at ii for decades: “Not trying to be anything other than who you are. That’s an absurdly difficult thing to do, and it takes many years.”52 For her, it all comes down to intuition and storytelling: “Telling a story makes sense to me. It allows for a benevolent relationship to the world.”53 Again, easy as that sounds, the work comes “painfully. I don’t want to tell the story that I seem to be telling. I want to tell you the understory. The not-story.”54 And as often as not, the not-story is the courage it takes to be individual. When in the course of And the Pursuit of Happiness she visits the Supreme Court, ostensibly to report on democracy in America, we find ourselves sitting down with Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Who knew that her favorite artist is Matisse? Or that her justice robes come from Paris? Or that as the only woman on the Supreme Court, she feels lonely?

Kalman’s online columns are monumental editorial projects that pitch into relief her process as a whole, in particular the role of photography. (In her essay in this catalogue, Stamatina Gregory discusses their significance within the blogosphere.) Like a reporter on the beat, Kalman develops each column from in-depth research on her elected topic. She does related travel, interviews, and copious amounts of note – and picture – taking. Her work these days is as much about street photography as it is journalism. A walker by habit, she appears ever on the lookout for eccentric outfits, broken chairs, discarded couches, the back of somebody walking in front of her, and other subjects that inspire her humanity. Back in the studio, she keeps these photographs on file to use like preparatory sketches for painting or to corroborate a story: “Sometimes the counterpoint of a painting followed by a photo makes an impact: this is actually what I saw, and not something I made up.”55 Indeed, there is something of a double-whammy in seeing a picture taken through Kalman’s lens next to one rendered by her hand. It shows how intensely the world can be experienced through pictures.

All of Kalman’s work comes from her focus on pictures. As much as she draws from life experience for her work’s subject matter, the work itself is all drawn from reproductions. (In postmodern parlance, she is an illustrator of appropriated images.) And though she uses her own pictures a lot and often depicts works of art taken from reproductions, her art has always shown a marked affinity for seeing the world through iconic works of modern photography. Diane Arbus’s grotesquely dignified portrait of a giant and his parents is echoed in Kalman’s very early, very punk The Guzelofkowitzes Visit Daughter Veronica Guzé (Know Your Roots). Cecil Beaton’s photo of a ballet dancer flying through a room gains an unflappable man, talking on the telephone. Henri Cartier-Bresson’s perfect day in the park, a photo from 1955 titled Frances, Essonne, Near Juvisy-sur-Orge, becomes for Kalman the emblematic painting of “what I want my life to feel like. Light, water, greenery, children at play, children in costumes, people caught in an utterly natural yet ethereal moment.”56 To complete the picture, she inserted her own children in it.

From the sound of it, what Kalman wants her life to feel like is a Matisse painting. And so did Matisse, for that matter. The painter of Luxe, calme et volupté  was an almost neurotically anxious man. He calmed himself down by playing the violin and spent the rest of the time struggling hard to achieve the luxurious sense of relaxation, joy, and participation in life that music gave him. In Kalman’s work, Matisse is a constant. There he is painting a voluptuous model in an armchair. And there goes his painting, The Red Studio, moved across a museum gallery, like a toy in pictorial pieces.

Matisse is among a number of modern artists Kalman claims through her work. Obviously Marc Chagall, his figures floating dreamily and musically in spaces filled with reference to Russian folklore and Jewish culture, finds accord in Kalman’s work. Charlotte Salomon is a less widely known reference, whose Life? or Theater? A Play with Music gives an ecstatic and visionary account of her life set to song through hundreds of gouache drawings. She began the work while living in exile as a German Jew in southern France and completed it in 1943 shortly before she was taken to Auschwitz and killed. The last lines urgently affirm: “And with dream-awakened eyes, she saw all the beauty around her.”

Kalman’s affinity for the widely known artist Marcel Duchamp may be less obvious, until you think of Duchamp’s sense of humor and how at home any of his Readymades would be on one of Kalman’s “many tables of many things.” Moving into the present, the Chicago Imagist Jim Nutt, his cartoon style of abstracting the portrait down to a calm and crazy essence, makes sense. Maybe not Fred Sandback, the Minimalist sculptor, who drew with string in space, but then again, think about it. Simplicity and individually are Kalman’s modes of expression.

In literature, too, her work gravitates toward modern memoirists and collectors. A collector of butterflies, Vladimir Nabokov is practically part of the family. Kalman’s portrait of him as a young boy, sitting in a rattan chair, wearing a tie, and looking up from the picture book on his lap, is presaged by a portrait of Max the dog in exactly the same picture.57 That most parsing of poets Emily Dickinson is portrayed with her dog, Carlo. Like an upholstered madeleine, an empty green ottoman stands in for Marcel Proust, who savored cakes and loved his mother, albeit to the extreme. And given that the most endearing term of affection in the Kalman family is “you idiot,” it would be remiss not to mention Fyodor Dostoyevsky.58 Look for Kalman’s typed list of names from Part One of The Idiot amidst things on view.


Kalman’s work has continuously moved off the page taking its frame of reference with it. Imagine a world with men wearing the tapestry jacket Kalman created with fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi in 1989, the first of their many collaborations. It would be furnished with sofas upholstered in the “Story of My Life” textile she designed for Maharam. And full of dogs sporting rainwear she created with Kate Spade. Kalman’s work has entered the urban fabric, too, through her mural projects, which Kenneth E. Silver discusses in his essay in this catalogue. In 1995 she dressed the windows of the Sony Building with a diorama populated with the mannequins she designed for the display manufacturer Ralph Pucci. And in 2000 she created a spectacular theater curtain for choreographer Mark Morris’s ballet Four Saints, Three Acts, based on the Gertrude Stein and Virgil Thomson opera.59 Now envision all of these things merged into a great theater piece by Kalman, along the lines of how urbanist Jane Jacobs theorized the city as a public dance.

This is not as far-fetched as it sounds: there is a strong theatrical bent to Kalman’s work — and to Kalman herself  In 1981 she appeared in National Lampoon’s “Unofficial Guide to Fort Lauderdale and Daytona Beach” as Terri Thompson from Asphaltville, Ohio, vacationing with her dentist husband, Timothy. The guide was designed by M&Co, as was the brochure for Kalman’s 1989 Tokyo exhibition, announcing “An Evening with Maira Kalman in Nervous.” And so she appears, dressed up in 1950s diva drag, complete with pillbox hat. Dressing up for pictures was the extend of her performance until recently. In 2005 Kalman appeared on stage (among other nonprofessionals on percussion, keeping time by spinning a Rolodex, typing, slamming a dictionary) with composer Nico Muhly, who created a song cycle based on her rendition of The Elements of Style. While there are no immediate plans for a theater piece, ideas have long been percolating. As Kalman envisions it “The play will be a cacophonous musical tanztheater (with a touch of Pina Bausch) that will tell the story of my family…. It will have Russian songs, and tangos, and other romantic evocative work.”60

When asked by The New York Times what she would like to see someday in Times Square, Kalman responded with “Milton.”61 Essentially an alternative space without a director, Milton would run on a “PITTANCE… because we need small, eccentric places in the midst of the conglomerates.” The program would “change with the proprietor. One week one hat is for sale. The next week someone is doing their ironing. The next someone is playing the violin.” Within Kalman’s work, a number of conceptual, Miltonian events have already been performed. For instance, one afternoon during her first exhibition at the Julie Salu Gallery in New York visitors were invited to stop by and “have a button sewn on any article of clothing.” In the background, there was ironing.62

Matisse would have approved! Art should be “a soothing, calming influence on the mind, something like a good armchair that provides relaxation from fatigue,” he famously said.63 What could be more soothing than the draw of the needle, the press of the iron, domestic tasks quietly abstracted? Like Matisse, Kalman is a connoisseur of decorative distractions and bourgeois pleasures, ostensibly the very things the avant-garde set out to destroy, or at least mock. As late as 1945, an interviewer said to Matisse, “People still have not been given up reproaching your art for being extremely decorative, meaning that in the pejorative sense of superficial.” And Matisse shot back, “The decorative for a work of art is an extremely precious thing. It is an essential quality.”64

While Postmodernism has done a fair job of making the decorative safe for critical discussion, charm has yet to be recuperated. Or even really touched, since charm is essentially a term of dismissal, denoting something not to be taken seriously. Andy Warhol’s graphic art is charming; his mechanically reproduced silkscreen paintings are not. The polemics of charm quickly rev up to questions of gender and other polarizing issues. But for now let’s slow down and look at moving the compass in a different direction.

Maira Kalman’s work is certainly charming, even powerfully so, given how loaded a term charm seems to be. So why not take this opportunity to accept it at face value? Like a gift. In his captivating and widely read book The Gift: Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property, Lewis Hyde reckons that art is a gift that cannot be bought or sold, only received. And, as any reader of anthropology knows, gift giving and getting is no passive act but more or less a test of one’s own humanity. Hyde writes: “That art which matters to us – which moves the heart, or revives the soul, or delights the senses, or offers courage for living, however we choose to describe the experience – that work is received to us as a gift is received.”65 How can it be said any better? Maira Kalman’s gift is to illuminate that which matters, affirming our own capacity for joy, sadness, humor – and even charm – along with our hunger for those very things, and some snacks.



  1. Although published by The New York Times as a “blog,” Kalman prefers to call it an “online column,” which seems to her truer to the process of research and reportage these pieces entail.
  2. Sarah Boxer, “A Funny New Yorker Map is Again the Best Defense,” The New York Times, December 8, 2001, 13. I would like to thank Laura Holzman, in the graduate program at the University of California, Irvine, for the insightful exchange about her writing on Maira Kalman’s online columns as a “public panacea.”
  3. Maira Kalman and Rick Meyerowitz, “Things to Do on Valentine’s Day,” Los Angeles Times, February 14, 2003, B17.
  4. As they drove, what precipitated as Kalman’s shout-out was Meyerowitz’s comment on how tribal the Democratic Party was becoming as the city approached the mayoral election. For the full account, see “New Yorkistan” on rickmeyerowitz.com.
  5. Maira Kalman, “One on One: In-Depth Interviews with Host Katherine Lanpher,” Barnes and Noble Studio, 2007, http://downloads.feedroom.com/podcasts/t_Assets/20071108/776a1931ff2ef46a44ea91af30c7b6vb5c6187d6.mp3.
  6. Kim Hastreiter, “What They Do,” Paper Magazine (May 2004): 84.
  7. As Kalman describes them: “A group that according to its mission statement is ‘bound together by our love of rubber bands.’” Maira Kalman, “How-to Dept.: Art, a Crash Course,” The New Yorker, January 15, 2001, 35.
  8. Quoted from Maira Kalman’s lecture on simplicity for the 2007 TED conference; TED is a small nonprofit devoted to “ideas worth spreading.” Kalman’s talk can be accessed through its website: http://www.ted.com/speakers/maira_kalman.html.
  9. James Kaplan, “(T&)M&Co,” New York Magazine, November 23, 1998, 40. An invaluable profile of Maira and Tibor Kalman: individually and as a couple. I am also grateful to those who spoke to me informally, including Bethany Johns and Douglas Riccardi among others, about their M&Co.
  10. As CEO Maira Kalman maintains M&Co, not as a studio but as a licensing enterprise and venue for new design projects, including the “Zupa” rubber ball clock, the “Prozoc” paperweight, and, in 2000, the book (un)FASHION by Tibor and Maira Kalman.
  11. Published in 1973, Our Town! An Insider’s Guide to New York Brought to You by the People of Barnes & Noble Bookstores was a promotional publication created by the innovative “book supermarket” founded by Leonard Riggio in the 1970s, with Tibor Kalman as director of planning and development.
  12. Kaplan, “(T&)M&Co,” 44.
  13. Undated early artworks and publication tear sheets at Kalman’s studio.
  14. “New York File 1: Maira Berman,” Illustration [translated from Japanese] (February 1983): 123.
  15. Quoted in Chee Pearlman, “Unleashing Her Inner Child,” The New York Times, November 1, 2001, 8.
  16. Hiroko Tanaka in The Collection of Women Illustrators Presents an Evening with Maira Kalman in Nervous (Tokyo: The Ginzo Art Space, 1989), unpaginated. Hugging is not off the table when it came to Max, whose likeness was made into a plush toy to promote the series in 1995.
  17. Trisha Hall, “For Young Readers, Picasso Not Bunnies,” The New York Times, January 9, 1992, C2.
  18. Liz Farrelly, Tibor Kalman: design and undesign (New York: The Ivy Press, 1998), 22.
  19. Steven Heller, “Interview: Maira Kalman,” Eye 47 (Spring 2003): 61-62.
  20. Published by the Whitney Museum of American Art, Roarr: Calder’s Circus (1991) brings Alexander Calder’s toy masterpiece (1926-31) to life with text by Maira Kalman, photographs by Donatello Brun, and design by M&Co.
  21. The book-in-process is mentioned in a number of publications, including Tibor Kalman: Perverse Optimist, ed. Peter Hall and Michael Bierut (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1998), 160. One gets a sense of how the city might have appeared in Max the dog’s eye view from “Piccolo Mondo,” Kalman’s editorial on children’s fashions in the March 6, 1994, issue of The New York Times Magazine.
  22. Kalman, “One on One.”
  23. Maira Kalman, “Tibor Swimming in the Ocean,” The New York Times Magazine, January 2, 2000, 66.
  24. Kalman, TED lecture.
  25. Kaplan, “(T&)M&Co,” 42.
  26. Maira Kalman, “Mad about the Met,” Departures Magazine (May-June 2008): 232.
  27. Kalman, TED lecture.
  28. Interesting to note is the reference to Frida Kahlo’s painting The Dream (1940), in which Kahlo appears, encircled in foliage, asleep in a bed floating in the sky. (A skeleton slumbers on the top of the bed canopy.)
  29. “Music had the power to take me out of my despair,” Kalman says of the period during Tibor’s illness. More recently she took accordion lessons, finding “merriment” in the one tune she has mastered: “It’s transporting.” See Elaine Louie, “Bellows and Bars to Soothe the Soul,” The New York Times, April 20, 2003, sect. 9, 9.
  30. Hall, “For Young Readers,” C2.
  31. Kaplan, “(T&)M&Co,” 43.
  32. Jesse Nathan, “‘I Want to tell you the understory. The Not-story.’ An Interview with Maira Kalman,” in More Things Like This (San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2009), 184.
  33. Ibid.
  34. Combined in print, Kalman’s words and pictures often exist on two separate sheets of paper, with the writing on a sheet of vellum.
  35. Kalman isn’t the only one to put the slogan back into circulation; there is a “Keep Calm” trent in Britain. According to historian Bex Lewis, “the ‘Keep Calm’ poster, meant to be distributed in the event of a German invasion, was extremely obscure for many decades.”Lewis traces its recent revival to a bookshop in northern England, where one of the original posters turned up “in a box of old books.” See Bob Walker, “Remixed Message.” The New York Times Magazine, July 5, 2009, 19.
  36. Maira Kalman, “The Family Way,” The Book (Neiman Marcus), December 2001, 62.
  37. Some variation on these lines comes up, it seems, whenever Kalman is asked about her early biography. See, for instance, her website.
  38. Maira Kalman, “Bedtime Story,” O! At Home (Spring 2006): 32.
  39. Kalman, “The Family Way,” 62.
  40. Hastreiter, “What They Do,” 84.
  41. Kalman, “Bedtime Story,” 32.
  42. Maria Kalman, “Martin Fell Down,” The Ganzfeld, no. 2 (2002): 96.
  43. Maira Kalman, “Sept 10, 2001… The Day Before,” The New York Observer, December 17, 2001, 12.
  44. Benjamin’s suicide isn’t literally represented by this snowy scene but is evoked as emblematic of the deaths of so many Europeans who attempted to elude the Gestapo in the 1930s and the 1940s.
  45. Harold Rosenberg, Saul Steinberg (New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, 1978), 12. More recently, Joel Smith’s excellent 2006 exhibition and catalogue (organized by the Vassar College Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center), Saul Steinberg: Illuminations, finds an echo in the title of this show of Kalman’s work.
  46. Bemelmans wrote, among other things, a yearlong series of editorials on the state of tourist destinations throughout postwar Europe. The assignment from Holiday magazine proved less than congenial to his otherwise charmed outlook on life.
  47. Maira Kalman, “Couture Voyeur,” The New York Times Magazine, November 5, 2000, 70.
  48. Maira Kalman, “The Splendid Garden(er),” Culture + Travel (Winter 2007): 108.
  49. Maira Kalman, “MY Tel Aviv: A Stroll through the City,” Tablet, September 5, 2008, http://www.tabletmag.com/arts-and-culture/737/my-tel-aviv.
  50. Maira Kalman, “Vis-o-vis the Venice Biennale,” The New Yorker, August 22, 2005, 49.
  51. Maira Kalman, “Fun Work If You Can Get It,” O! (May 2002): 231.
  52. Holly Davis, “Guileless and Gutsy,” The Artist’s Magazine (October 2009): 46.
  53. Nathan, “I want to tell you the understory,” 182.
  54. Ibid.
  55. Frances Prose, “The World According to Maira,” Aperture 197 (Winter 2009): 62.
  56. Maira Kalman, “Mind’s Eye,” Aperture 189 (Winter 2007): 88.
  57. Maira Kalman, Swami on Rye (New York: Viking), 1.
  58. Kalman, “The Family Way,” 62. “And I have to say, that the term of endearment most often used in my family is ‘you idiot.’”
  59. The opera was originally performed in 1934 with costumes and decor by Florine Strettheimer who’s confectionary style of painting makes her another modernist icon in Kalman’s personal pantheon.
  60. Heller, “Interview,” 61. “And Einstein may be mentioned. You can’t go wrong if you bring in Einstein.”
  61. Maira Kalman, “Through a Glass, Brightly,” The New York Times, June 13, 2004, sect. 15, 5.
  62. During the course of the exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, plans are underway for a weeklong program called “Milton,” organized by Penn students in Kenneth Goldsmith’s “Writing through Art and Literature: Transforming the Wor(l)d” seminar.
  63. Henri Matisse, “Notes of a Painter (1918)” in Jack Flam, Matisse on Art (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995), 42.
  64. “Interview with Leon Degand (1945),” in Flam, Matisse on Art, 164-65.
  65. Lewis Hyde, The Gift: Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property (New York: Vintage Books, 1979), xii.