Memphis will host an exhibition of drawings, watercolors and other works by beloved children’s book creator Maurice Sendak — best known for his classic “Where the Wild Things Are” — later this year.
“Drawing the Curtain: Maurice Sendak’s Designs for Opera and Ballet” opens in October and runs through January at the Memphis Brooks Art Museum. (Exact dates are yet to be determined.)
Brooks’ acting executive director, Mark Resnick, called Sendak “the best children’s book artist of all time” when he announced the exhibit Tuesday during a speech at the Memphis Rotary Club.
Resnick’s luncheon with about 50 Rotarians in Brooks Rotunda was primarily to promote the museum’s ambitious plan to build and relocate a new waterfront facility downtown.
But Resnick also praised the quality of the current exhibits at the original Brooks Museum in Overton Park. “We cannot afford to have any discontinuity between who we are here and who we aim to be,” he said.
Resnick mentioned topical events and exhibits such as “Andy Warhol: Silver Clouds,” a “very ‘do-touch’ exhibit” that places approximately 75 floating, helium-filled, silver “clouds” in the shape of pillow and designed by Warhol. into a room ; “Paradise Lost: Albrecht Dürer’s Stolen Eden”, which collects 37 woodcuts from 1511 by a German master artist; and the free public “ChalkFest” on Saturdays, which invites children to draw with chalk on the museum’s sidewalk and plaza.
He also promised “Another Dimension: Digital Art in Memphis,” a timely show from June 24 to September 18 that will focus on local creators of NFT and other forms of digital art.
But the show he mentioned that has the potential to draw large crowds and media attention by focusing on a star performer is “Drawing the Curtain: Maurice Sendak’s Designs for Opera and Ballet,” presented in partnership with the Morgan Library & Museum in New York. (which developed the exhibition from its collection of 900 drawings, bequeathed to the library by Sendak) and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston (the only institution other than the Morgan and the Brooks to host the exhibition).
“We’re bringing you a wild ruckus,” Resnick told Rotarians, alluding to a famous scene in ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ that finds a young boy, Max, engaging in a ‘wild ruckus’ alongside the monsters that he meets on a mysterious island.
He said the show would offer the Brooks “an exciting way to hit the whole town,” working with Opera Memphis, Ballet Memphis and other cultural institutions whose missions align with the purpose of the Sendak exhibit. , which features dozens of drawings, watercolors, storyboards, costume sketches, dioramas and other works created for Sendak’s stage adaptations of works such as Mozart’s “The Magic Flute”, Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker” and a opera based on Sendak’s picture book “Where the Wild Things Are”, which has sold some 19 million copies since its first publication in 1963.
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Sendak, who died in 2012 at the age of 83, was perhaps matched only by Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel as an acclaimed and popular children’s picture book author-illustrator. He has written and illustrated some 20 books, including “Chicken Soup with Rice” and “In the Night Kitchen”, and provided illustrations for nearly 100 more.
His book career began in the late 1940s, but from the late 1970s he became actively involved in opera and ballet, overseeing set and costume design for many productions.
Resnick said the Brooks were able to bring the Sendak exhibit to Memphis after its run at the Gardner because the institutions established an almost twin-museum partnership. He said the Brooks previously allowed the Gardner to host “On Christopher Street: Transgender Portraits by Mark Seliger,” an exhibition of works by who was in Memphis last year.
Plans for ‘Brooks on the Bluff’
Most of Resnick’s conversation on Tuesday, however, focused on previously reported details of plans for the so-called ‘Brooks on the Bluff,’ the new $150 million museum complex that will take up a city block. Resnick shared slides of architect’s drawings with the public and pointed out that other drawings are on public display at Brooks.
Resnick said the new Brooks will be part of what he called Downtown’s “renaissance” and will function as “a beacon for learning, a true home for art – and, dare I say, we will to be an epicenter of global culture.”
Groundbreaking probably won’t begin until next year at the earliest, but Rotarians probably won’t mind. They’re patient: Rotary Club of Memphis president Otis Sanford said Tuesday’s meeting was the 5,368th meeting in the organization’s more than 100-year history.