Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Wild Things Happening at the GRAM

When I used to baby-sit perpetually, Where the Wild Things Are was a book that I could recite by heart:

"The night Max wore his wolf suit, and made mischief of one kind and another, his mother called him 'Wild Thing' and Max said "I'll eat you up!", so he was sent to bed without eating anything."

A compilation of work by children's author and illustrator Maurice Sendak is currently on exhibition at the GRAM, and features dozens of original Wild Things sketches. 

The beloved children's classic was published in 1963 and transformed the genre of children's literature—portraying children as individuals, with real moods and emotions.

Sendak originally pitched the story idea as Where the Wild Horses Are—the editor loved the idea, but Sendak soon realized he couldn't draw horses. When he told his editor*, she asked: “Maurice, what can you draw?”

Things,” he said.

The "Things" take on the personas of some of Sendak's aunts and uncles, who he remembers having crooked teeth and hairy noses. His child-like and literal understanding of things they often said frightened him, "How fat you got, you look so good we could eat you up," they'd say.

Since its release, Where the Wild Things Are has been animated, made into an opera (that Sendak designed the set for), and a feature length film

But that wasn't Sendak's entire legacy. He also wrote the book and lyrics for the children's musical, Really Rosie. I did not know this before visiting the museum today, but I remember seeing this play as a kid, and wearing the hot pink t-shirt for YEARS afterwards. So thanks, Maurice Sendak. 

Sendak was born the same year as Mickey Mouse, and the mouse was very influential in Sendak's childhood, inspiring him to draw and tell stories. Often sick as a child and confined to bed, Sendak's astounding imagination took over. He often showed tribute to the mouse via illustration. 
Self Portrait
This Sendak original is currently for sale online for $11,000. 

Google even honored Sendak on his 85th birthday with this impressive Google Doodle.

The exhibition at the GRAM continues now thru May 22nd and contains about 50 sketches. If you have fond memories of Max in his wolf suit, I suggest you check it out. 

*This editor was also responsible for a few other classics like The Giving Tree, Goodnight Moon, Harold and the Purple Crayon and Charlotte’s Web among others.

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