Maurice Bernard Sendak
Sendak, Maurice Bernard, 1928–2012, American writer and illustrator of children's books, b. Brooklyn, N.Y. Largely self-taught, he has been widely acclaimed as the 20th-century's most important childrens' book artist. His illustrations—beautifully drawn, wildly imaginative and stylistically varied, often fantastic and emotionally complex, and sometimes controversial—appear in dozens of children's books, beginning with The Wonderful Farm (1951) and including The Sign on Rosie's Door (1960) and Where the Wild Things Are (1963), which he also wrote, as well as In the Night Kitchen (1970), Outside over There (1981), and We Are All in the Dumps with Jack and Guy (1993). He turned to other pursuits, but in 2011 Bumble-Ardy, the first children's picture book he wrote and illustrated in 30 years, was published. Sendak also illustrated a number of adult works, e.g., Melville's Pierre (1995). From the mid-1980s on Sendak devoted an increasing amount of his time to theatrical work. He designed a number of musical productions, including Mozart's The Magic Flute, a musical version of Where the Wild Things Are, the Metropolitan Opera's production of Prokofiev's Love for Three Oranges (1985), and the Holocaust-themed A Selection (1999), created with the Pilobolus Dance Theater. Based on a 1938 children's opera by Hans Krása originally performed (1942) in the Theresienstadt concentration camp, Sendak's picture book Brundibar (2003), with text by Tony Kushner, was also produced as an opera designed by Sendak, with a libretto by Kushner (2003). The two also collaborated on a version of Martinů's 1937 opera, Comedy on the Bridge. Sendak also was the artistic director of his own theater company, the Night Kitchen.
See S. G. Lanes, The Art of Maurice Sendak (1980, repr. 1998); T. Kushner, The Art of Maurice Sendak: 1980 to the Present (2003); studies by A. Sonheim (1991) and J. Cech (1995).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.