Elements of Style
"Muriel Draper's fabulous hat" photograph by Carl Van Vechten; in honor of the Beinecke Library's new exhibition, "Elements of Style: Fashion and Form at the Beinecke," on view January 19 through March 27, 2010. Join us Tuesday, February 2, 2010 at 4:00 pm, for the exhibition opening event, "My Soul Finds Comfort in This False Hope" a talk by Maira Kalman.
About the Exhibition
This exploration of fashion and literary culture pays playful homage to Strunk and White's now classic grammar primer, The Elements of Style, first published in its current guise fifty years ago. The "little book," as it has come to be called, has offered prosaic advice on all things prose to generations of college students. Yet its emphasis on "style," on the ease, clarity, and distinctive flair of good writing, reveals, at the same time, how the component parts of composition similarly mirror the characteristic stamp of a signature look, be it Fitzgerald's fictional Gatsby or the Jazz Age icon Josephine Baker. The exhibition considers, then, the idea of style as it relates to sartorial expression and prose/poetic form—the role of clothing and design in literature and everyday life, and the artful way in which words appear upon the page. We discover that clothing, and the meaning of dress, remains a compelling literary subject, just as fashion itself is highly dependent on written language, on the power of description and, in turn, of persuasion. With a focus on the concept of the modern, "Elements of Style" highlights literary artifacts such as Gertrude Stein's embroidered waistcoats and Muriel Draper's hats, while it also draws attention to the evocative relationship between text and texture, fabric and paper, as well as the book artist's continued fascination with sewing and the decorative arts.
About Maira Kalman
Maira Kalman was born in Tel Aviv and moved to New York with her family at the age of four. She has worked as a designer, author, illustrator and artist for more than thirty years without formal training. Her work is a narrative journal of her life and all its absurdities. She has written and illustrated twelve children's books including Ooh-la-la- Max in Love, What Pete Ate, and Swami on Rye. She often illustrates for The New Yorker magazine, and is well known for her collaboration with Rick Meyerowitz on the NewYorkistan cover in 2001. Recent projects include The Elements of Style (illustrated), and a monthly on-line column entitled Principles of Uncertainty for The New York Times. She teaches a graduate seminar in design at the School of Visual Arts and is represented by the Julie Saul Gallery in NYC. More information on Maira Kalman: www.mairakalman.com
Photographs by Carl Van Vechten are used with permission of the Van Vechten Trust; the permission of the Trust is required to publish Van Vechten photographs in any format. To contact the Trust email: Van Vechten Trust.