Click to search the Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library Skip Navigation

LIVE from the NYPL: Maira Kalman in Conversation with Paul Holdengräber

October 23, 2007

Viewing videos on requires Adobe Flash Player 9 or higher.

Get the Flash plugin from


Copy the embed code below to add this video to your site, blog, or profile.

Celebrating the publication of The Principles of Uncertainty, is an irresistible invitation to experience life through the psyche of Maira Kalman. Her book, a compilation of her illustrated New York Times columns, is part personal narrative, part documentary, part travelogue, and part chapbook where she paints her inimitable combination of image and text. Her whimsical paintings, ideas, and images?which initially appear random?ultimately form an intricately interconnected worldview, an idiosyncratic inner monologue. Kalman contends with some existential questions?What is identity? What is happiness? Why do we fight wars? And then, of course, death, love, and candy (not necessarily in that order).

The evening consists of gathering, ping pong, a conversation between Maira Kalman and Paul Holdengräber about life, love, yearnings, confusion with some visuals from the book Principles of Uncertainty. Julie Saul will be nearby. Small amount of questions. THEN the music. The questions from Principles of Uncertainty will be performed. Composition by Nico Muhly. Then all are invited for a refreshment involving Mocha Creme Cake.

Julie Saul owns the Julie Saul Gallery at 535 West 22nd Street where the paintings from Maira Kalman's book are now being exhibited.

A Note on the music: ?I wrote three sad songs filled with questions. Maybe later we will get some answers and then there will be more singing. But until then there are just these three songs and little interludes.? Nico Muhly

Caleb Burhans, countertenor & violin

Sam Amidon, banjo, voice

Brian Snow, cello

Nico Muhly, piano


About Maira Kalman


Maira Kalman is an illustrator, author, and designer. Most recently, she illustrated a new edition of Strunk and White's The Elements of Style. She has created many covers for The New Yorker, including the famous map of Newyorkistan (created with Rick Meyerowitz). Ms. Kalman's twelve children's books include Max Makes a Million, Stay Up Late, Swami on Rye, and What Pete Ate. She also has designed fabric for Isaac Mizrahi, accessories for Kate Spade, sets for the Mark Morris Dance Company, and, with her late husband Tibor Kalman under the M&Co. label, clocks, umbrellas, and other accessories for the Museum of Modern Art. Ms. Kalman's work is shown at the Julie Saul Gallery in Manhattan.

In her own words: "born. bucolic childhood. culture-stuffed adolescence. played piano. stopped. danced. stopped. wrote. discarded writing. drew. reinstated writing. married Tibor Kalman and collaborated at iconoclastic yet successful design studio. wrote and painted children's books. worried. took up Ping-Pong. relaxed. wrote and painted for many magazines. cofounded the Rubber Band Society. amused. children: two. dog: one."

About Nico Muhly

Nico Muhly attended Columbia University and the Juilliard School, where he studied composition under Christopher Rouse and John Corigliano. Muhly's works have been premiered by the American Symphony Orchestra, the Juilliard Orchestra, the Boston University Tanglewood Institute Orchestra, the Boston Pops, Clare College Choir, and New York's Saint Thomas Church Choir, among others. In 2005, with designer/illustrator Maira Kalman, he created a song cycle on Strunk & White's The Elements of Style that premiered at LIVE from the NYPL. He did film scores for Choking Man (2006) and Joshua (2007), and he has worked extensively with Philip Glass for numerous film and stage projects. He has also lent his skills as performer, arranger and conductor to such musicians as Bj?rk and Antony of Antony and the Johnsons. Speaks Volumes (2007), a disc of Muhly's chamber music with electronics, brought invitations for concerts at both Carnegie's Zankel Hall and the Whitney Museum. He lives in New York City.

About Paul Holdengräber

Paul Holdengräber is the Director of Public Programs?now known as "LIVE from the NYPL"?for The Research Libraries of The New York Public Library.