Sara Berman’s Closet

December 4, 2018–March 10, 2019

About the Exhibition

Take a look inside Sara Berman’s Closet—an installation by artists Maira Kalman (b. 1949) and Alex Kalman (b. 1985) based on the life of Maira’s mother and Alex’s grandmother, Sara Berman (1920–2004). 

At the age of sixty, Berman relocated to New York from Tel Aviv after ending a thirty-eight-year marriage. One morning, in another self-expressive burst of independence, Berman decided to wear only white. With militaristic precision and loving care, Berman kept her minimal belongings in perfect order, starching, ironing, folding, and stacking her clothes—even her socks—within a humble closet in her small studio apartment in Greenwich Village. Berman’s closet and its monochromatic contents became emblematic of her liberation: she had left behind her upper‐middle-class life and its possessions to have a room and a style of her own. 

When Berman died, in 2004, her family saved the contents of her closet. Ten years later, Maira and Alex recreated the closet in an alleyway in lower Manhattan for Mmuseumm. In 2016, Sara Berman’s Closet was exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. At the Skirball, the installation will be complemented by twelve new paintings by Maira that depict pivotal scenes from her mother’s life—from childhood to marriage to finding freedom in New York. Don’t miss the LA engagement of this intimate exploration of identity, feminism, family, and memory.