Published in 1963, Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are is a childhood classic. The tale of Max’s journey into another world has been lovingly recited by countless parents to their children. Known for a variety of characters and picture books, Sendak initially illustrated other authors’ books before starting to write his own in the 1950s. This exhibition celebrates his career, including original illustrations as well as drawings made for friends and fans featuring characters from Where the Wild Things Are, Little Bear and In the Night Kitchen among other books. Theatrical production designs created by Sendak, animation cels, and sketches in a variety of mediums will also be included.
Sendak created a visual language that has captivated generations of children. His distinctive pen and ink illustrations communicate the offbeat humor present in his writings. Although he sometimes indulged in lighthearted plots, his picture books often have menacing elements: fanged monsters, baby stealing goblins and young protagonists placed in dangerous situations. Sendak gave children the opportunity to engage with ethical dilemmas, to feel afraid as well as joyful, and to take part in imaginative play. As he stated, “Children do live in fantasy and reality; they move back and forth very easily in a way we no longer remember how to do.”
During his long career Sendak illustrated over one hundred children’s books, which continue to thrill and fascinate children all over the world. The fifty works of art in the exhibition will be accompanied by quotes from fellow illustrators, friends, and others, sharing their thoughts on Sendak and the ways in which he inspired them. As Stephen Colbert stated, “His art gave us a fantastical but un-romanticized reminder of what childhood truly felt like.”
The exhibition is organized by Opar, Inc. with special thanks to the lenders of the exhibition and to the AFA Gallery in New York City for their support.
Image Credit: Maurice Sendak, Wild Thing & Max, circa 1970, ink, watercolor and colored pencil on paper, Private Collection, © Maurice Sendak, All Rights Reserved