May 8, 2012

Goodbye to Maurice Sendak.

We were just talking about his saying "Go to hell"... and now he's gone. Not to hell, I'm sure. He was 83.
A largely self-taught illustrator, Mr. Sendak was at his finest a shtetl Blake, portraying a luminous world, at once lovely and dreadful, suspended between wakefulness and dreaming. In so doing, he was able to convey both the propulsive abandon and the pervasive melancholy of children’s interior lives.

His visual style could range from intricately crosshatched scenes that recalled 19th-century prints to airy watercolors reminiscent of Chagall to bold, bulbous figures inspired by the comic books he loved all his life, with outsize feet that the page could scarcely contain. He never did learn to draw feet, he often said.
Here's an excellent, recent interview with him:
The term "children's illustrator" annoys him, since it seems to belittle his talent. "I have to accept my role. I will never kill myself like Vincent Van Gogh. Nor will I paint beautiful water lilies like Monet. I can't do that. I'm in the idiot role of being a kiddie book person." He and Eugene never considered bringing up children themselves, he says. He's sure he would have messed it up. His brother felt the same way: after their childhood, they were too dysfunctional. "They led desperate lives," he says of his parents. "They should have been crazy. And we – making fun of them. I remember when my brother was dying, he looked at me and his eyes were all teary. And he said, 'Why were we so unkind to Mama?' And I said, 'Don't do that. We were kids, we didn't understand. We didn't know she was crazy.'"

14 comments:

jimspice said...

"Not to hell, I'm sure."

He was an atheist, so many would beg to disagree.

ricpic said...

Shtetl; Chagall: just because Sendak was a Jew he has to be ghettoized by Miz Fox?

TML said...

"In the Night Kitchen" is so wonderful. Well, all the books were. Sad. Like when William Steig died. He was just as important as Sendak. Even without Shrek. You can read "Dominic" or "Abel's Island" as an adult and still be awed. Miss them both.

wyo sis said...

His books really aren't children's books. Like many children's book author/illustrators Sendak embraced the picture book format because it gives artists a lot of ways to explore art, and requires only that it be publishable. Some of the best and most beautiful art is done for picture books.
We've lost a lot of great artists recently. Rest in peace.

wyo sis said...

jimspice
I hope not to hell. Atheists probably go to heaven too.

traditionalguy said...

Ah ha. This post contains a clue as to why some men avoid marriage to a good woman: they barely survived their relationship with their crazy mother whom they loved.

He sounds like an independent thinker too. RIP Maurice Sendak

craig said...

"Not to hell, I'm sure."

"He was an atheist, so many would beg to disagree."

Before this thread gets derailed with everyone channeling his inner Dodo or his inner Phelps, let us all note that it is beyond human competence to assign anyone either to heaven or to hell. Only God knows what is in a human heart, and whether a man will receive the mercy that He offers even when the man does not recognize it as being from God.

Rliyen said...

Where the Wild Things Are was the first book I bought for my son when he was born. I loved that book when I was a child.

RIP Mr. Sendak

Rliyen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Skyler said...

His book creeped me out when I was a kid. I still don't like it. I don't understand why anyone would.

rehajm said...

No matter how protective a parent you are you cannot protect your children from their own fears.

MarkW said...

I'm not a big Maurice Sendak fan, but his interview with Stephen Colbert is hilarious. Here's the first part:

http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/406796/january-24-2012/grim-colberty-tales-with-maurice-sendak-pt--1

Geoff Matthews said...

I'm not a fan of "Where the Wild Things Are", but I did love "Little Bear", the books and the animated show. It seemed much more functional and positive.

The Crack Emcee said...

I love when curmudgeons die, because it's so nice to know the insults are over for them. Sendak endured so much, even with his success, since he also knew few listened to him beyond what he created (supposedly) for kids.

No, instead of being taken seriously, his was a life stuck amongst the idiots who insisted he should "smile" more, as they were determined to not only pigeon-hole his work but continue with the white-washing of every lie he took in like air. Yeah, I'm glad to see him go.

Goodbye, old friend, they can't hurt you anymore,...