Maurice Sendak exhibit comes to SF

September 11, 2009 5:47:50 PM PDT
"Where the Wild Things Are" is one of the best-selling children's books of all-time. An insight into the mind and artistry of its creator, Maurice Sendak, has just opened at the Contemporary Jewish Museum. It's called "there's a mystery there."

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The images are unmistakable and unforgettable. When Maurice Sendak's "Where the Wild Things are" was published in 1963, it changed the face of children's literature.

It's about the lovable monsters of childhood.

"Every child has fear, has joy, full of contradictions and that's what Maurice Sendak gives that. Love of the nightlife and they're scared of what's under the bed," said Jewish Contemporary Museum Director Connie Wolf.

The book has been translated into many languages and soon it will be a major feature film. His book "Brundibar" became a Berkeley repertory theatre play that went to Broadway.

Sendak found inspiration in his life. Those monsters could have been eccentric aunts or uncles paying a visit. He was born in Brooklyn and experienced the depression. Family members were lost in the Holocaust.

"These things really influenced him and made a deep impression on him because there's darkness to his work," said Wolf.

When the Lindbergh baby was kidnapped, his father said it would never happen to him. Some of this work is pretty heavy and controversial, yet there's a lot to make us smile.

They've also included a gallery map for adults and children. Like a roadmap behind the stories of Maurice Sendak

This is the largest exhibit of Sendak's work outside of a permanent collection in Philadelphia. His influence is felt throughout the museum.

Even the cafe has Sendak-inspired creations. Sendak is still alive is 81 years old.

"I love his work because he makes you hold on to the preciousness of every day," said Wolf.

The Sendak on Sendak exhibit will show at the Contemporary Jewish Museum through next January 19. "Where the Wild Things are," the movie opens in theatres on October 16.

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