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Popular Topics in The Arts
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In Memoriam
 
In Memoriam: Maurice Sendak (1928-2012)
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 05/08/12
Last updated on: 05/08/12
 
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Maurice Sendak in a TateShots interview broadcast on YouTube.

Renowned children's author and artist Maurice Sendak died on May 8, 2012 as the result of complications from a stroke. In an obituary in the New York Times, Margalit Fox said he was "widely considered the most important children's book artist of the 20th century, who wrenched the picture book out of the safe, sanitized world of the nursery and plunged it into the dark, terrifying and hauntingly beautiful recesses of the human psyche."

His most famous book was Where the Wild Things Are (1963), for which he received the Caldecott Medal from the American Library Association. As Linda Rapp explains in her glbtq.com entry on Sendak, "Where the Wild Things Are was a radical departure from the typical children's books of the time: it contained no moral lesson, and it dealt with how youngsters use fantasy to cope with and conquer their fears."

Sendak himself considered his best book to be Outside over There (1981), a dark tale of a baby who is kidnapped by goblins.

Sendak was also known for his set designs and costumes, especially for operas.

He collaborated with playwright Tony Kushner in creating an English adaptation of Hans Krása's Brundibár, a children's opera in Czech. Their work was first produced in 2003, and in the same year they published the story as a picture book, with text by Kushner and illustrations by Sendak.

In 1996, President Clinton presented Sendak the National Medal of the Arts.

Sendak came out publicly in a 2008 interview with the New York Times.

He was predeceased by his partner of 50 years, Dr. Eugene Glynn, a psychiatrist, author, and art critic who died in 2007.

 
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