The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein
Park Avenue Armory, Booth D29
We are thrilled to present a solo booth featuring a new series of gouache paintings by artist and author Maira Kalman illustrating Gertrude Stein’s The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas to be published by Penguin Press in Winter/Spring 2020. The thirty-five gouache paintings on paper are inspired by existing photographs of Alice and Gertrude in the interior of their Parisian apartment on the Rue de Fleurus, in the country, often accompanied by their standard poodle, Basket, as well as images based on the narrative of the book. Kalman evokes the world of Stein and Toklas’ coterie of friends with portraits and tableau with Picasso, Matisse, Stravinsky, James Joyce, Diaghilev, Nijinsky, Sylvia Beach, Edith Sitwell, Apollinaire, Marie Laurencin, and others.
Kalman has conducted extensive research in unearthing archival photographic images from the period as source material. Her sumptuous interiors depict the Stein’s collected works by Picasso, Matisse, etc. From the early days of the Bateau Lavoir through the ambulance driving during the First World War and the set of Virgil Thompson’s Four Saints in Three Acts, Kalman traces the early 20th century avant-garde, and a fraught period in history, forming a psychologically complex body of work. The concept for this book, and these paintings, has been in the planning for many years.
Kalman is a multi-media artist. Since 1985, she has illustrated and/or authored over thirty books. In 2017 she worked with John Heginbotham, a former Mark Morris dancer, on a full-scale dance production based on herbased on her New York Times blog and publication The Principles of Uncertainty. That same year she executed murals at the Israel Museum and the Jewish Museum, NY and collaborated with the Israeli writer Etgar Keret in a residency. Also that summer her entire series of paintings from the illustrated Elements of Style was shown at the gallery, and was acquired jointly by the Jewish Museum and the New York Public Library. Ten years previously, she and Nico Muhly collaborated on an opera based on the Elements that was performed at the NYPL. Still in that year, Kalman designed The Museum Workout which led participants on a on a journey through the collections of the Metropolitan Museum with text and disco/Motown music. Her installation/ exhibition entitled Sarah Berman’s Closet a collaboration with her son Alex was first presented at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2017, and is now ending a run at the Skirball in Los Angeles and will next travel to Philadelphia.
In 2014 The Cooper Hewitt hosted a show of My Favorite Things selected by Kalman from her collection and the museums, and in 2010 Ingrid Schaffner curated a large survey of Kalman’s work and ephemera at the ICA in Philadelphia that traveled to the Jewish Museum in New York, and subsequently to the SF Jewish Museum and the Skirball in Los Angeles.
Her level of activity and creativity is astonishing, and she has a passion for visual collaboration with living and historical literary figures including Michael Pollen, Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket), David Byrne, as well as Robert Walser, and now, Gertrude Stein.