I heard the sad news just a short time ago that famed author and illustrator Maurice Sendak had just passed on at age 83 after complications from a stroke.
While I was not a youngster when his books became so popular, my two sons were able to enjoy his works as youngsters. As someone in the visual arts I was amazed by his tremendous creativity that was consistent right up until his last days.
Just a few months ago Stephen Colbert interviewed Sendak in Connecticut at his home. I recorded the interview, but couldn't convert it to a digital format in time for this post. I thought to myself "How many times does Colbert travel to the home of the interviewee? This might have been a first!" Anyway, it was a hilarious interview with the two characters playing off each other's sense of humor. (Comedy Central has a short clip of the interview here.)
Shortly after I graduated from college I taught some art classes at a local art center in Danbury, Connecticut and one of my students knew Maurice Sendak quite well as did her father. I hoped one day I might meet Sendak, but that day never came. Nevertheless, it was a wonderful feeling to know he lived six miles away (as the crow flies) just over the border in Connecticut.
I know a wave of sadness will hit millions, most likely billions, of his fans worldwide as news of his death spreads. I am reminded of how we are constantly losing so many talented people each year and now, unfortunately, Maurice Sendak has been added to that list.
Mr. Sendak’s work was the subject of critical studies and major exhibitions; in the second half of his career, he was also renowned as a designer of theatrical sets. His art graced the writing of other eminent authors for children and adults, including Hans Christian Andersen, Leo Tolstoy, Herman Melville, William Blake and Isaac Bashevis Singer.
In book after book, Mr. Sendak upended the staid, centuries-old tradition of American children’s literature, in which young heroes and heroines were typically well scrubbed and even better behaved; nothing really bad ever happened for very long; and everything was tied up at the end in a neat, moralistic bow.
Mr. Sendak’s characters, by contrast, are headstrong, bossy, even obnoxious. (In “Pierre,” “I don’t care!” is the response of the small eponymous hero to absolutely everything.) His pictures are often unsettling. His plots are fraught with rupture: children are kidnapped, parents disappear, a dog lights out from her comfortable home."
--Margalit Fox, The New York Times
For the full Times article click on the image below:
Maurice Sendak interviewed at his home in Ridgefield, CT.
The trailer for Where The Wild Things Are:
UPDATE: The News-Times of Danbury, CT has part one of the Colbert interview from January here in video form.
Below is the content from my post from 2009:
With the release last week of Where the Wild Things Are, I thought readers on OS would be interested to see where Maurice Sendak hangs out. If you were able to fly like an eagle from my hill and head a few miles to the east you would arrive at Maurice Sendak's place which is on a beautiful back country road.
Several decades ago a local paper profiled him in a feature piece so I knew that he lived in the area from that point on. A friend of ours lives about half a mile from his house, but I don't know if she ever crossed paths with him. Certainly her children read his books some 10 years back when they were in grade school.
This general area north of New York City is home to many well known authors, such as Philip Roth.
If you ever wondered Where the Wild Things Are you now know the answer.
The distant ridge just to the right of the tallest tree in the photo is the area Where the Wild Things Are.
A quick photo shot from my car of the bucolic and lovely Sendak homestead.