Weather, Weather: Maira Kalman and Daniel Handler’s Lyrical Illustrated Celebration of the Elements
By Maria Popova
Certain languages, including French and my native Bulgarian, have one word for both “time” and “weather.” Perhaps the conflation arises from an inescapable similarity — like time, which envelops the entirety of our conscious experience, the weather is the indelible backdrop against which our lives are lived, constantly coloring our state of mind and saturating our language with myriad metaphors.
The abiding mystery and magic of our elemental companion is what artist Maira Kalman and writer Daniel Handler celebrate in Weather, Weather — the third installment in their series of dreamlike picture-books for grownups in collaboration with the Museum of Modern Art, following Hurry Up and Wait, which explored the delicate art of presence in the age of productivity, and Girls Standing on Lawns, a work of unconcretizable aboutness and absolute delight.
Once again, Kalman and Handler curate a selection of artworks from the museum’s collection around a theme — in this case, the weather. These photographs of physical environments from around the world pour forth their cascading meanings, relished differently with each contemplation. Handler’s poetic prose and Kalman’s original watercolors string the archival images together into a lyrical meditation on the role of the elements in the human experience. Art and life intersect with largehearted levity in the result of this imaginative and unusual collaboration.
I was in my room wondering what it was like somewhere else.
What’s the weather like?
It’s like summer. It’s like doing nothing.
The newspaper said it would be nice today.
What does the newspaper know.
I can’t even say what it’s like. It’s perfect, the whole thing. Come with me, take me with you. Let’s go out together and have poached eggs.
Complement the tiny fabric-bound treasure Weather, Weather with Kalman’s Beloved Dog, an illustrated homage to a constant companion of a very different sort, then revisit artist Lauren Redniss’s exquisite celebration of the weather.
Published December 1, 2016