"Wild Things" Will Stomp into Denver in Fall 2024

DAM to present Wild Things: The Art of Maurice Sendak with more than 400 sketches, artworks, storyboards and paintings created by the beloved American artist and author
Max in his wild things suit dancing at night to the full moon

Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are, 1963, watercolor, ink, and graphite on paper, 9 3/4 x 11 in. © The Maurice Sendak Foundation

DENVER—Nov. 16, 2023—The Denver Art Museum (DAM) will welcome Wild Things: The Art of Maurice Sendak, for the 2024/25 holiday season. One of the most versatile artists of the 20th century, Maurice Sendak is best known for award-winning titles Where the Wild Things Are, In the Night Kitchen, Outside Over There and Nutshell Library. He also designed theater sets and collaborated on films. Wild Things will open at the DAM Oct. 13, 2024 and will be on view through Feb. 17, 2025, in the museum’s Hamilton Building.

The show will include a wide array of objects, drawings, paintings, and mockups. It also includes sketches for the set designs of the Where the Wild Things Are opera and costumes for the live-action, feature-length film.

Wild Things is titled after Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, the beloved children’s book he authored in 1963 that became a cultural touchstone, signaling to all the beauty, whimsy, and mischief that his art inspired over his 65-year career. Among many other highlights, the exhibition will feature the first presentation of all the original paintings for Where the Wild Things Are and significant additional loans from The Morgan Library & Museum in New York and Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc.

Maurice Sendak in a green, leafy forest

Portrait of Maurice Sendak, 2011. Annie Leibovitz / Trunk Archive

Maurice Sendak was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1928 to Polish Jewish immigrant parents and began illustrating books in 1947 as a mostly self-taught artist. For more than six decades, Sendak expanded and redefined the picture book.

“Maurice Sendak’s art tells stories of courage, adventure, resilience, curiosity and a deep understanding of the human desire for connection and discovery,” said Christoph Heinrich, Frederick and Jan Mayer Director of the Denver Art Museum and co-curator of this exhibition. “Sendak’s identity and experiences as a first-generation American, combined with the legacy and heritage of his Polish Jewish family, especially through WWII and the Holocaust, make his personal perspective and artistic insight immensely valuable, powerful and timeless.”

Following the success of Where the Wild Things Are, Sendak embarked on a second career as a stage designer and producer for theater productions including The Magic Flute and The Nutcracker throughout the 1980s. He collaborated with many of the greatest writers, directors and composers of his time and received numerous awards throughout his career, including the Caldecott Medal, the Hans Christian Andersen Award and the National Medal of Arts, making him the most celebrated picture book artist in history.

“Sendak’s art has been meaningful for so many of us and will certainly be for future generations,” Heinrich said. “Wild Things not only offers visitors an opportunity to enjoy his original drawings for these books, but also to explore Sendak’s artistry and the depth and complexity of his exhaustively creative mind.”

Wild Things monsters carrying Max on their shoulders while they dance and parade together

Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are, 1963, watercolor and ink on paper, 9 3/4 x 22 in. ©The Maurice Sendak Foundation

Pencil drawing of a young boy and a lion

Maurice Sendak, Pierre, 1962, ink on paper, 4 ¼ x 3 1/2 in. © The Maurice Sendak Foundation

In Wild Things, visitors will see unique examples of Sendak’s timeless art, gaining an understanding of his extraordinary skill and his deep understanding of the process of creating picture books, stage sets and productions. Alongside Sendak’s work, Wild Things will showcase works by other artists that Sendak collected throughout his life, tracing the origins of his creativity to William Blake, Winsor McCay, Beatrix Potter, George Stubbs and Walt Disney. Sendak’s collaborations with distinguished directors, musicians, and visual artists such as Carroll Ballard, Frank Corsaro, Carole King, Spike Jonze and Tony Kushner, among many others, are illuminated throughout the exhibition.

Wild Things will be accompanied by an abundantly illustrated catalog. Including scholarly essays focusing on Sendak’s origins, it is the first in-depth analysis of his artwork by art historians and other experts of visual culture.

Wild Things Are Happening: The Art of Maurice Sendak has been co-organized by the Denver Art Museum and the Columbus Museum of Art in partnership with The Maurice Sendak Foundation. It is curated by Jonathan Weinberg, Ph.D., Curator and Director of Research at The Maurice Sendak Foundation and Christoph Heinrich, Frederick and Jan Mayer Director of the Denver Art Museum.

Generous support is provided by Bank of America, Kent Thiry & Denise O'Leary, the donors to the Annual Fund Leadership Campaign, and the residents who support the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD). Promotional support is provided by 5280 Magazine and CBS Colorado.

Planning Your Visit

The most up-to-date information on planning a visit to the Denver Art Museum can be found online under the Plan Your Visit tab. Use this page to find details on ticket pricing, public transit options and access information. General admission for museum members is free every day. Youth aged 18 and under receive free general admission everyday thanks to the museum’s Free for Kids program. Free for Kids also underwrites free admission for school and youth group visits.

About the Denver Art Museum

The Denver Art Museum is an educational, nonprofit resource that sparks creative thinking and expression through transformative experiences with art. Its holdings reflect the city and region—and provide invaluable ways for the community to learn about cultures from around the world. Metro residents support the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD), a unique funding source serving hundreds of metro Denver arts, culture and scientific organizations.

For museum information, visit www.denverartmuseum.org or call 720-865-5000.

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