Courtesy photoAvant-garde artist Bernice Bing is the subject of a film screening at the de Young Museum on Friday in an event presented by the Asian American Women Artists Association.

Courtesy photoAvant-garde artist Bernice Bing is the subject of a film screening at the de Young Museum on Friday in an event presented by the Asian American Women Artists Association.

Sendak's magical works, life in spotlight in Presidio

Maurice Sendak had illustrated more than 50 books when he pitched his own idea: a story called “Where The Wild Horses Are.”

A few months into the project, Sendak realized he had a big problem: He couldn't draw horses.

He turned to his childhood memories, drawing inspiration from some of his European relatives, lovable but unkempt with less than perfect teeth. He created “Wild Things,” changed the book and the title, and a children's classic was born.

“Maurice Sendak: 50 Years, 50 Works, 50 Reasons” is on display at the Walt Disney Family Museum through July 7. The show offers a fascinating glimpse into the late illustrator's life and the forces that influenced his work.

It's no surprise that Sendak's work is being shown at the Disney museum. He decided to become an illustrator at the age of 12 after watching Disney's “Fantasia.”

“Maurice Sendak was a huge Walt Disney fan,” guest curator Anel Muller says. “He considered Mickey Mouse to be the little brother he always wanted.”

The exhibition marks the 50th anniversary of “Where the Wild Things Are.” Fifty original works from the book are on display, many of them loaned by private collections or friends of the artist.

Despite a troubled childhood that included illness, the deaths of relatives in the Holocaust and the death of a friend, Sendak's art explodes with joyfulness and playfulness.

Highlights include a wonderful drawing of Max in his wolf suit, chasing after his dog Jenny. There are several illustrations of Wild Things, as fresh as if they were drawn yesterday, and a lovely drawing of Little Bear, the character created by author Else Holmelund Minarik.

In addition to writing and illustrating books, Sendak worked in animation and created set designs for opera and ballet. He died last year at the age of 83.

Sendak took his fans very seriously. He replied as honestly as he could to children who asked him questions they couldn't ask their parents, Muller says.

Once Sendak received a card from a little boy named Jim. He sent back a thank-you note and included a drawing of a Wild Thing.

Soon the boy's mother wrote back. “Jim loved your card so much he ate it.”

Sendak couldn't have been happier.

“That, to me, was one of the highest compliments I've ever received,” he said. “He didn't care that it was an original drawing or anything. He saw it, he loved it, he ate it.”

Maurice Sendak: 50 Years, 50 Works, 50 Reasons

Where: Walt Disney Family Museum, 104 Montgomery St., Presidio, S.F.

When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily except closed Tuesdays; show closes July 7

Tickets: $10 to $25

Contact: (415) 345-6800, www.waltdisney.org

Art & Museumsarts

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott leaves the scene of an officer-involved shooting at Brannan Street and Jack London Alley in the South Park area on Friday, May 7, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Chief Scott issues rare apology to man shot by SF police

Officer says he ‘did not intend for his firearm to go off’

Despite the pandemic, San Francisco has ended the fiscal year with a budget surplus. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Better than expected tax revenues leave city with $157.3M surplus for this year

As the fiscal year nears an end and Mayor London Breed prepares… Continue reading

Passengers board a BART train bound for the San Francisco Airport at Powell Street station. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
BART bumps up service restoration to August 30, offers fare discounts

Rail agency breaks pandemic ridership records, prepares to welcome more passengers

Ashley and Michelle Monterrosa hold a photo of their brother Sean Monterrosa, who was killed by a Vallejo police officer early Tuesday morning, as they are comforted at a memorial rally at the 24th Street Mission BART plaza on Friday, June 5, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
State Department of Justice to investigate Sean Monterrosa shooting by Vallejo police

Attorney General Rob Bonta steps in after Solano County DA declines case

Gov. Gavin Newsom, show here speaking at the City College of San Francisco mass vaccination site in April, faces a recall election due to anger on the right over his handling of the pandemic, among other issues. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Why Gavin Newsom’s popularity could work against him in the recall election

Top pollster: ‘We’re not seeing the Democrats engaged in this election. And that may be a problem…’

Most Read