Maira Kalman has a unique way of describing how she felt regarding the High Museum of Art and the Alliance Theatre, both in Midtown, partnering to bring her life’s work to the public.
“It is like having a fantastic birthday party as a child and getting gifts and all the cotton candy you could possibly want, along with ice cream and cake,” she said. “I am amazed, delighted and grateful.”
Her body of work is at the High in a new exhibition, “The Pursuit of Everything: Maira Kalman’s Books for Children,” coming June 22 through Sept. 15. The exhibition is in conjunction with the Alliance’s world premiere play, “Max Makes a Million,” based on the illustrator’s/author’s book by the same name and performed June 20 through July 21.
According to a news release on the exhibition, it explores the extensive catalog of Kalman’s imaginative stories and illustrations, which have delighted readers of all ages for more than 30 years. It also provides an immersive panorama of Kalman’s picture-book career and features more than 100 works including original drawings and paintings.
The release stated Kalman’s books ignite curiosity and invite young readers to engage deeply with the world around them. Recognized for her surreal imagery, Kalman expertly combines sophisticated and hilarious text with beautifully rendered pictures, readily acknowledging the interplay between her writing and painting practice.
Perhaps best known for her quirky New Yorker magazine covers and brilliant pictorial essays, Kalman, 70, who lives in New York, has published more than a dozen books for adults and 18 acclaimed children’s books, the release stated.
These works began with the 1987 game-changing picture book “Stay Up Late,” which gave visual form to the famous “Talking Heads” song from the album “Little Creatures.”
“The Pursuit of Everything” marks the High’s fourth collaboration with the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, Massachusetts, which organized Kalman’s exhibition.
In a news release, Ellen Keiter, chief curator at the Carle, said she was thrilled to partner again with the High to bring children’s picture book art to Atlanta.
“Kalman is an astute chronicler of our time as well as someone who makes history accessible and museum visitors will revel in her lively imagery and witty observations, which vacillate between the comic and the profound,” Keiter said.
In a news release on Kalman, Virginia Shearer, the High’s director of education, described Kalman’s work as “challenges all of us to rediscover the childlike curiosity that lives deep down inside.”
“We are delighted to welcome families back to the High for another exhibition that highlights the work of an acclaimed author and illustrator, and we are honored to continue our multi-year collaboration with our colleagues at the Eric Carle Museum, who are such wonderful partners,” Shearer said.
To bring the artist closer to her artistic process, Kalman repainted the opening scene from her 1991 Mikado-themed book, “Sayonara, Mrs. Kackleman,” just for the High exhibition.
Her work has also addressed important historical people and events with books including “Looking at Lincoln” and the 9/11- inspired “Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey.” She collaborated as an illustrator with authors on three books published last year, including working with U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York, on “Bold & Brave: Ten Heroes Who Won Women the Right to Vote.”
Admission to the exhibition is included with the High’s regular ticket prices, which are $14.50 for ages 6 and older and free for museum members and children under 6. For more information, visit www.high.org.