Judging by this sidewalk sign the good folks at Capogiro gelateria (just up 20th Street from the museum) must have paid a visit recently to our new exhibition Sendak in the '60s. Sendak's original drawing of Max and Moishe the Wild Thing is part of the exhibition that explores his most productive and experimental decade. It was a decade of ups and downs for the young artist. He created his greatest successes like The Nutshell Library, Where the Wild Things Are and In the Night Kitchen (begun in 1969) in that decade, but also struggled with ill health, the death of collaborators, family, and pets, and major shifts in the children's publishing industry. Yet he managed to publish 34 books in those ten years (depending on how you count the 4-book Nutshell Library); throughout the 1970s, he would publish just 8.
|Intro image courtesy of photographer Nancy Crampton: Maurice Sendak at Lake Mohonk, NY, 1968. (C) Nancy Crampton, all rights reserved.|
One of the best ways to experience Sendak's energetic experimentation in his books from the '60s is to get them in your hands and hear what they have to say. We worked with the aptly-named Night Kitchen Interactive to develop a set of Sendak books that talk to you, whispering (through a cleverly embedded audio device) a secret about how Sendak conceived or constructed that particular book, and how that was visionary at the time. And, of course, you can check out original artwork for the books in the gallery, too--from "greatest hits" like Where the Wild Things Are and In the Night Kitchen to the often-overlooked-but-no-less-sublime Higglety, Pigglety, Pop! and Lullabies and Night Songs, along with plenty of '60s surprises (like a William Steig dummy book, courtesy of the Free Library of Philadelphia, and a Sendak drawing for The Hobbit). And if you get hungry looking at all the cool artwork you can always grab a gelato afterwards....
Patrick Rodgers is Curator of the Maurice Sendak Collection at the Rosenbach and loves gelato.