Maurice Sendak

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Maurice Sendak
BornMaurice Bernard Sendak
(1928-06-10)June 10, 1928
Brooklyn, New York, US
DiedMay 8, 2012(2012-05-08) (aged 83)
Danbury, Connecticut, US
Resting placeCremated
OccupationArtist, illustrator, writer
NationalityAmerican
Alma materArt Students League of New York
Period1947–2012
GenresChildren's literature, picture books
Notable work(s)Where the Wild Things Are (1963)
In the Night Kitchen (1970)
Notable award(s)Caldecott Medal
1964, 1974
Hans Christian Andersen Award
1970
Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal
1983
Astrid Lindgren Award
2003
Partner(s)Dr. Eugene Glynn
(1957–2007; his death)
Relative(s)Philip Sendak (father),
Sadie Schindler (mother),
Jack Sendak (brother)


 
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Maurice Sendak
BornMaurice Bernard Sendak
(1928-06-10)June 10, 1928
Brooklyn, New York, US
DiedMay 8, 2012(2012-05-08) (aged 83)
Danbury, Connecticut, US
Resting placeCremated
OccupationArtist, illustrator, writer
NationalityAmerican
Alma materArt Students League of New York
Period1947–2012
GenresChildren's literature, picture books
Notable work(s)Where the Wild Things Are (1963)
In the Night Kitchen (1970)
Notable award(s)Caldecott Medal
1964, 1974
Hans Christian Andersen Award
1970
Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal
1983
Astrid Lindgren Award
2003
Partner(s)Dr. Eugene Glynn
(1957–2007; his death)
Relative(s)Philip Sendak (father),
Sadie Schindler (mother),
Jack Sendak (brother)


Maurice Bernard Sendak (/ˈsɛndæk/; June 10, 1928 – May 8, 2012) was an American writer and illustrator of children's literature. He was best known for his book Where the Wild Things Are, first published in 1963.

Contents

Life and career

Early life

Sendak was born in Brooklyn, to Polish Jewish immigrant parents Sadie (née Schindler) and Philip Sendak, a dressmaker.[1][2][3] Sendak described his childhood as a "terrible situation" because of his extended family's dying in The Holocaust, which exposed him at an early age to death and the concept of mortality.[4] His love of books began at an early age when he developed health problems and was confined to his bed.[5] He decided to become an illustrator after watching Walt Disney's film Fantasia at the age of twelve. One of his first professional commissions was to create window displays for the toy store F.A.O. Schwarz. His illustrations were first published in 1947 in a textbook titled Atomics for the Millions by Dr. Maxwell Leigh Eidinoff. He spent much of the 1950s illustrating children's books written by others before beginning to write his own stories.

His older brother Jack Sendak also became an author of children's books, two of which were illustrated by Maurice in the 1950s.[6]

Work

The characters illustrated in Where the Wild Things Are caused some controversy for their grotesque appearance

Sendak gained international acclaim after writing and illustrating Where the Wild Things Are. The book's depictions of fanged monsters concerned some parents when it was first published, as his characters were somewhat grotesque in appearance. Before Where the Wild Things Are, Sendak was best known for illustrating Else Holmelund Minarik's Little Bear series of books.[7]

When Sendak saw a manuscript of Zlateh the Goat, the first children's story by Isaac Bashevis Singer, on the desk of an editor at Harper & Row, he offered to illustrate the book. It was first published in 1966 and received a Newbery Award. Sendak was delighted and enthusiastic about the collaboration. He once wryly remarked that his parents were "finally" impressed by their youngest child when he collaborated with Singer.[8]

His book In the Night Kitchen, originally issued in 1970, has often been subjected to censorship for its drawings of a young boy prancing naked through the story. The book has been challenged in several American states including Illinois, New Jersey, Minnesota, and Texas.[9] In the Night Kitchen regularly appears on the American Library Association's list of "frequently challenged and banned books". It was listed number 21 on the "100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990–1999".[10]

His 1981 book Outside Over There is the story of a girl, Ida, and her sibling jealousy and responsibility. Her father is away and so Ida is left to watch her baby sister, much to her dismay. Her sister is kidnapped by goblins and Ida must go off on a magical adventure to rescue her. At first, she is not really eager to get her sister and nearly passes her sister right by when she becomes absorbed in the magic of the quest. In the end, she rescues her baby sister, destroys the goblins, and returns home committed to caring for her sister until her father returns home.

Sendak was an early member of the National Board of Advisors of the Children's Television Workshop during the development stages of the Sesame Street television series. He also adapted his book Bumble Ardy into an animated sequence for the series, with Jim Henson as the voice of Bumble Ardy. He wrote and designed three other animated stories for the series: "Seven Monsters" (which never aired), "Up & Down", and "Broom Adventures".

Sendak produced an animated television production based on his work titled Really Rosie, featuring the voice of Carole King, which was broadcast in 1975 and is available on video (usually as part of video compilations of his work). An album of the songs was also produced. He contributed the opening segment to Simple Gifts, a Christmas collection of six animated shorts shown on PBS TV in 1977 and later issued on VHS in 1993. He adapted his book Where the Wild Things Are for the stage in 1979. Additionally, he designed sets for many operas and ballets, including the award-winning (1983) Pacific Northwest Ballet production of Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker, Houston Grand Opera's productions of Mozart's The Magic Flute (1981) and Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel (1997), Los Angeles County Music Center's 1990 production of Mozart's Idomeneo, and the New York City Opera's 1981 production of Janáček's The Cunning Little Vixen.

In the 1990s, Sendak approached playwright Tony Kushner to write a new English version of the Czech composer Hans Krása's children's Holocaust opera Brundibár. Kushner wrote the text for Sendak's illustrated book of the same name, published in 2003. The book was named one of the New York Times Book Review's 10 Best Illustrated Books of 2003.

In 2003, Chicago Opera Theatre produced Sendak and Kushner's adaptation of Brundibár. In 2005, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, in collaboration with Yale Repertory Theatre and Broadway's New Victory Theater, produced a substantially reworked version of the Sendak-Kushner adaptation.

Sendak also created the children's television program Seven Little Monsters.

Influences

Maurice Sendak drew inspiration and influences from a vast number of painters, musicians and authors. Going back to his childhood, one of his earliest memorable influences was actually his father, Philip Sendak. According to Maurice, his father would relate tales from the Bible; however, he would embellish them with racy details. Not realizing that this was inappropriate for children, little Maurice would frequently be sent home after retelling his father's "softcore Bible tales" at school.[11]

Growing up, Sendak developed from other influences, starting with Walt Disney's Fantasia and Mickey Mouse. Sendak and Mickey Mouse were born in the same year and Sendak described Mickey as a source of joy and pleasure while growing up.[12] He has been quoted as saying, "My gods are Herman Melville, Emily Dickinson, Mozart. I believe in them with all my heart." Elaborating further, he has explained that reading Emily Dickinson's works helps him to remain calm in an otherwise hectic world: "And I have a little tiny Emily Dickinson so big that I carry in my pocket everywhere. And you just read three poems of Emily. She is so brave. She is so strong. She is such a passionate little woman. I feel better." Likewise, of Mozart, he has said, "When Mozart is playing in my room, I am in conjunction with something I can't explain. [...] I don't need to. I know that if there's a purpose for life, it was for me to hear Mozart."[13]

Personal life

Sendak mentioned in a September 2008 article in The New York Times that he was gay and had lived with his partner, psychoanalyst Dr. Eugene Glynn, for 50 years before Glynn's death in May 2007. Revealing that he never told his parents, he said, "All I wanted was to be straight so my parents could be happy. They never, never, never knew."[14] Sendak's relationship with Glynn had been mentioned by other writers before (e.g., Tony Kushner in 2003).[15] In Glynn's 2007 New York Times obituary, Sendak was listed as Glynn's "partner of fifty years".[16] After his partner's death, Sendak donated $1 million to the Jewish Board of Family and Children's Services in memory of Glynn who had treated young people there. The gift will name a clinic for Glynn.[17]

Sendak was an atheist, and stated in a September 2011 interview with Terry Gross on National Public Radio's Fresh Air that he didn't believe in God. He went on to elaborate, and said among other things, "It [religion, and belief in God] must have made life much easier [for some religious friends of his]. It's harder for us nonbelievers."[18]

Death

Sendak died on the morning of May 8, 2012, in Danbury, Connecticut, from complications of a stroke.[19]

The New York Times obituary called Sendak "the most important children's book artist of the 20th century."[19] Author Neil Gaiman remarked, "He was unique, grumpy, brilliant, gay, wise, magical and made the world better by creating art in it."[20] Author R. L. Stine called Sendak's death "a sad day in children's books and for the world."[20] "We are all honored to have been briefly invited into his world," remarked comedian Stephen Colbert.[20]

His final book, Bumble-Ardy, was published eight months prior to his death. A posthumous picture book is scheduled for publication in February 2013.[19]

Sendak Collection

Sendak chose the Rosenbach Museum & Library in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to be the repository for his work in the early 1970s, thanks to shared literary and collecting interests. His collection of nearly 10,000 works of art, manuscripts, books and ephemera, has been the subject of many exhibitions at the Rosenbach, seen by visitors of all ages. Sendak once praised Herman Melville's writings, saying, "There's a mystery there, a clue, a nut, a bolt, and if I put it together, I find me." From May 6, 2008, through May 3, 2009, the Rosenbach presented There's a Mystery There: Sendak on Sendak. This major retrospective of over 130 pieces pulled from the museum's vast Sendak collection-the biggest collection of Sendakiana in the world-is the largest and most ambitious exhibition of Sendak's work ever created and is now a traveling exhibition. It features original artwork, rare sketches, never-before-seen working materials, and exclusive interview footage. The exhibition draws on a total of over 300 objects, providing a unique experience with each set of illustrations.

Exhibition highlights include the following:

Awards and honors

Internationally, Sendak received the third biennial Hans Christian Andersen Award for Illustration in 1970, recognizing his "lasting contribution to children's literature". He received one of two inaugural Astrid Lindgren Memorial Awards in 2003, recognizing his career contribution to "children's and young adult literature in the broadest sense". The citation called him "the modern picture-book's portal figure" and the presentation credited Where the Wild Things Are with "all at once [revolutionizing] the entire picture-book narrative ... thematically, aesthetically, and psychologically."[21] In the United States he received the American Library Association's Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal for career contribution to children's literature in 1983.

Sendak was honored in North Hollywood, California, where an elementary school was named after him.

Works

Author

Illustrator

Collections

Filmography

Recent and upcoming exhibitions (selection)

See also

References

  1. ^ "Maurice Sendak Papers". Lib.usm.edu. http://www.lib.usm.edu/~degrum/html/research/findaids/DG0878f.html. Retrieved October 13, 2009.
  2. ^ "Author-illustrator Maurice Sendak's work is the subject of a show at the Contemporary Jewish Museum". San Jose Mercury News. 2011. http://www.mercurynews.com/books/ci_13255382. Retrieved May 10, 2012.[dead link]
  3. ^ Braun, Saul (June 7, 1970). "Sendak Raises the Shade on Childhood; Maurice Sendak says he's quite verbal, 'but I lie a lot'". The New York Times. http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F10E11F83555107A93C5A9178DD85F448785F9. Retrieved October 13, 2009.
  4. ^ "Why Maurice Sendak Puts Kid Characters in Danger". Morning Edition (NPR). September 26, 2006. http://www.npr.org/2006/09/26/6139979/why-maurice-sendak-puts-kid-characters-in-danger. Retrieved September 23, 2011.
  5. ^ Patheos.com, Patheos on Maurice Sendak
  6. ^ Wolfgang Saxon (February 4, 1995). "Jack Sendak, 71, a Writer Of Surrealist Books for Children". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/1995/02/04/obituaries/jack-sendak-71-a-writer-of-surrealist-books-for-children.html.
  7. ^ Hulbert, Ann (November 26, 2003). "How Wild Was the Work of Maurice Sendak?". Slate. http://www.slate.com/id/2091696/. Retrieved October 13, 2009.
  8. ^ Ilan Stavans (ed.), Isaac Bashevis Singer: An Album, The Library of America, 2004, pp. 70–71.
  9. ^ Censorship Bibliography; Memories of Childhood: Six Centuries of Children's Literature at the de Grummond Collection[dead link]
  10. ^ "100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990–1999", American Library Association
  11. ^ "Maurice Sendak". NNDB. http://www.nndb.com/people/275/000023206/. Retrieved May 10, 2012.
  12. ^ Wild Things: The Art of Maurice Sendak Online Gallery. Exhibition at The Jewish Museum, New York CityL.
  13. ^ Maurice Sendak: "Where the Wild Things Are" PBS interview.
  14. ^ Cohen, Patricia (September 9, 2008). "Concerns Beyond Just Where the Wild Things Are". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/10/arts/design/10sendak.html.
  15. ^ "Tony Kushner celebrates Maurice Sendak, an old friend". The Guardian (London). December 6, 2003. http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2003/dec/06/booksforchildrenandteenagers. Retrieved October 13, 2009.
  16. ^ Bruni, Frank (May 24, 2007). "GLYNN, EUGENE DAVID, M.D.". The New York Times. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9905E2D9173AF937A15756C0A9619C8B63.
  17. ^ Bermudez, Caroline (August 12, 2010). "Famed Children's Book Author Gives $1-Million for Social Services". The Chronicle of Philanthropy XXII (16): 28.
  18. ^ On Maurice Sendak's death (8 May 2012), Terry Gross, host of National Public Radio's Fresh Air, aired 2003 and 2011 interviews she had conducted with Sendak. In September 2011 she said, "You're very secular, you don't believe in God." Sendak replied, "I don't," and elaborated. Among other things, he remarked, "It [religion, and belief in God] must have made life much easier [for some religious friends of his]. It's harder for us nonbelievers."
  19. ^ a b c Fox, Margalit (May 8, 2012). "Maurice Sendak, Children's Author Who Upended Tradition, Dies at 83". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/09/books/maurice-sendak-childrens-author-dies-at-83.html. Retrieved May 8, 2012.
  20. ^ a b c "Reactions by authors and celebrities to the death of Maurice Sendak". The Washington Post. Associated Press. May 8, 2012. http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/reactions-by-authors-and-celebrities-to-the-death-of-maurice-sendak/2012/05/08/gIQApKa1AU_story.html. Retrieved May 8, 2012.
  21. ^ "2003: Maurice Sendak: Researches Secret Recesses of Childhood". The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award. Retrieved August 13, 2012.
  22. ^ a b c "Also by Maurice Sendak," Where the Wild Things Are (Harper Trophy 25th Anniversary Edition, 1984)
  23. ^ "National Book Awards - 1982". National Book Foundation. Retrieved February 27, 2012.
  24. ^ "Lifetime Honors - National Medal of Arts". Nea.gov. http://www.nea.gov/honors/medals/medalists_year.html#96. Retrieved May 10, 2012.
  25. ^ Frenette, Brad (February 16, 2010). "Montreal filmmakers team up with Spike Jonze and NFB for new Sendak short". The Ampersand (Toronto: National Post). http://network.nationalpost.com/NP/blogs/theampersand/archive/2010/02/16/montreal-filmmakers-team-up-with-spike-jonze-and-nfb-for-new-sendak-short.aspx. Retrieved February 18, 2010.

External links