Maurice Sendak creates exhibition

Today, the New York City’s Jewish Museum opens a very special exhibition – An Artist Remembers: Hanukkah Lamps Selected by Maurice Sendak.

The museum invited artist and illustrator Maurice Sendak (and recipient of the 2003 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award) to choose a group of Hanukkah lamps from the collection. The exhibition features thirty-three Hanukkah lamps of varied eras and styles, along with two original drawings for Zlateh the Goat and Other Stories (1966) and In Grandpa’s House (1985), and audio excerpts of a conversation between Maurice Sendak and Jewish Museum curators. The lamps Sendak found most compelling and poignant are those that “go right to the heart,” whose “beauty is contained.”

Maurice Sendak, Final illustration for “Grandmother’s Tale,” in Zlateh the Goat and Other Stories (1966) by Isaac Bashevis Singer, Ink on paper, Maurice Sendak Collection, Rosenbach Museum & Library, Philadelphia.

For 83-year-old Sendak, choosing from among such a wealth of lamps was an emotional experience that brought up powerful memories, both joyful and haunting. Many of the pieces come from the vanished Eastern European world of his immigrant Jewish parents, so movingly evoked in his work and reflected in the two drawings on display. The sheer number of these lamps and their rich decoration – featuring Eastern European architectural motifs, elaborate floral ornamentation, and fantastic animals – stirred his deep sense of loss for the members of his family who perished in the Holocaust – a trauma he has attempted to work through in much of his art.

The exhibition will be available at New York City’s Jewish Museum until January 29, 2012.

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