Going from ‘Wild Things’ to more ‘Dreadful Things’

Curator Patrick Rodgers pushed the glass door to the Rosenbach’s latest exhibition open a week early. But perhaps the lack of frantic all-nighters to get “Dreadful Things Happen” up is to be expected: This is the third exhibition of Maurice Sendak’s work at the museum in less than a year. If anyone knows how to present this artist, it’s the Rosenbach.

Plus, Sendak himself is a fastidious chronicler of his own work. “He saves everything. He’s a really amazing archivist,” says Rodgers, standing amidst 20 or so original sketches by the now 82-year-old illustrator. “Like ‘Where the Wild Things Are,’ he had a preliminary drawing of that in 1955, didn’t know what to do with it, but held on to it until the ’60s. But when he’s finished a project, he sends the file to us.”

Which, over the years, has added up to around 10,000 drawings.

This latest selection of Sendak’s work focuses on one of his primary influences: classic 19th-century Grimm tales such as “Hansel and Gretel” and “Snow White.” “Literature can be hard to display. You put a book in a case, and it can be tough to connect with it,” says Rodgers. “But here I can see [Sendak’s] thumb prints. You get the idea that it’s his art: It’s a mess, he’s working on it and he’s trying to get it down.”

If you go

‘Dreadful Things Happen’

Runs through October

Rosenbach Museum and Library


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