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Monday, May 4, 2009

And the Pursuit of Happiness

I'm kicking myself for only having now discovered Maira Kalman's enchanting and inspiring series of 'blogs' about American democracy, that are more like illustrated stories, in the New York Times. (Most of you might know Kalman for her beautifully illustrated covers for The New Yorker). Called And the Pursuit of Happiness, the 'posts' represent a delightfully-naive, obversation-rich documentation of sightseeing visits to Washington for Obama's inauguration (called The Inauguration. At Last), to Philadelphia for the Lincoln Archive (In Love with A Lincoln), to Vermont to observe a town meeting (So Moved), and to the Supreme Court (May It Please The Court). Part-travel journal, part-history lesson, and part-fashion/food/design notes, they're very much written and illustrated from the point of view of a woman traveller experiencing the (democratic) world (or, America) for the first time. I'm a huge fan of Kalman's book (un)fashion, which she produced with her husband Tibor Kalman (an influential designer himself who was creative director of Interview magazine, and editor-in-chief of Benetton's ground-breaking globally-aware Colors magazine in its early years; he died in 1999), and although this is quite a different project, you'll see a similarity between the fantastic portraits of people in both the book and the 'blogs'. Let me know what you think.


Fly Girl said...

My goodness! I'm kicking myself as well, how could I have missed these! These posts are absoulutely wonderful! I love the whimsical tone and the fanciful drawings and how she shifts from prose to catchy rhymes "She knew how to protest and dress!" Maira is a treasure, thanks so much for introducing her work to me.

Lara Dunston said...

Hi Fly Girl

They're gorgeous, aren't they? You've described them perfectly.

The funny thing is I knew (un)fashion and have seen her New Yorker covers, (knew her husband's work well - Colors had a huge impact on me and my outlook on life) but I could never have imagined her doing these. Apparently her childrens' books and "Elements of Style" illustrations are similar. I'm going to have to check those out!

Prêt à Voyager said...

i LOVE her work (especially the inauguration pieces), but i also had no idea she was behind (un)Fashion (a book on my bookshelf). thanks for helping connect the dots, lara!


Lara Dunston said...

Hi Anne

No problem! I didn't realise her husband was the Colors editor either so I connected the dots as much for myself as you!