Drawing the Curtain: Maurice Sendak's Designs for Opera and BalletDrawing the Curtain: Maurice Sendak's Designs for Opera and Ballet
Maurice Sendak, 'Diorama of Moishe scrim and flower proscenium (Where the Wild Things Are),' 1979-1983, watercolor, pen and ink, and graphite pencil on laminated paperboard. © The Maurice Sendak Foundation. The Morgan Library & Museum, Bequest of Maurice Sendak, 2013.103:69, 70, 71.

Oct 7 - Jan 8

Drawing the Curtain: Maurice Sendak's Designs for Opera and Ballet

Renowned for his beloved and acclaimed children’s books, Maurice Sendak (b. New York, 1928–2012) was also an avid music and opera lover. In the late 1970s, he embarked on a successful second career as a designer of sets and costumes for the stage. Drawing the Curtain: Maurice Sendak’s Designs for Opera and Ballet is the first museum exhibition dedicated to this aspect of his career. Sendak’s refined line drawing and distinctive color palette permeate his imaginative designs for the stage. Like his children’s books, these stage designs present worlds that are both magical and mysterious, joyful and fraught, places where one might feel at times like an outsider, a theme which resonated with Sendak’s own lived experience.

 

Drawing the Curtain: Maurice Sendak’s Designs for Opera and Ballet features one hundred enchanting illustrations, detailed dioramas, and clever costumes—all in Sendak’s signature style—created for stage productions of Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Prokofiev’s Love for Three Oranges, Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker, and his own classic Where the Wild Things Are. This exhibition is suited for all audiences, young and old, and welcomes wild things and ferocious beasts; kings, queens, and nobles; mischievous children; and lovable characters of every kind.

Join us and be transported from page to stage to faraway places where our imaginations can run wild.

Presented by

Sponsored by Debi and Galen Havner

Drawing the Curtain: Maurice Sendak's Designs for Opera and Ballet was organized by the Morgan Library & Museum, New York.

Exhibition Programs

Saturday
8 Oct
2022
2:00 pm

Maurice Sendak's Second Career

Exhibition curator Dr. Rachel Federman explores children’s book author and illustrator Maurice Sendak’s successful second career beginning in the late 1970s as a designer of sets and costumes for the stage. An avid music lover, Sendak designed for productions of Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Prokofiev’s Love for Three Oranges, Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker, and his own classic Where the Wild Things Are.

Free
Event Details
Wednesday
12 Oct
2022
6:30 pm

Illustrator to Illustrator: A Tour with Mia Saine

In the spirit of wonderful illustrators, we're excited to announce Mia Saine will be giving a tour of "Drawing the Curtain: Maurice Sendak's Designs for Opera and Ballet" at your Brooks!

Free
Event Details
Saturday
22 Oct
2022
10:00 am

Sendak Teacher Workshop

Attend a Maurice Sendak Teacher workshop with the Brooks Museum! Learn about Maurice Sendak's second career as a set and costume designer for opera and ballet through a lecture given by Opera Memphis's General Director Ned Canty and an exploration of the exhibition. Get strategies for classroom instruction and art making based off of Sendak's designs!

Free
Event Details
Saturday
5 Nov
2022
10:00 am

A Quest for the Magic Flute

Join us on a musical journey to discover the wonder of ‘The Magic Flute.’ This multi-sensory scavenger hunt, led by Opera Memphis at the Brooks, introduces the whole family to this Mozart classic in a way never seen before! Event is free and open to the public. Space is limited so make sure to save your seat!

Free
Event Details
Wednesday
16 Nov
2022
6:30 pm

Storytelling Through Costume and Set Design

Let's talk storytelling with panelists from local theatre and dance groups of Memphis!

Free with registration
Event Details
Saturday
3 Dec
2022
2:00 pm

The Wild Holiday Rumpus!

“And now," cried Max, "let the wild rumpus start!” Come celebrate the holiday season at Memphis' art museum with art-making, cookie decorating, live performances, Sendak’s Nutcracker film screening, and so much more. Fun and free for the whole family!

Free
Event Details
Saturday
3 Dec
2022
5:00 pm

"Nutcracker: the Motion Picture" Movie Screening

Let's get our watch party on! We'll be hosting a free screening of "Nutcracker: the Motion Picture" featuring set and costume design by Maurice Sendak

Free
Event Details
Saturday
7 Jan
2023
2:00 pm

"Where the Wild Things Are" Movie Screening

Join us for a screening of Spike Jonze's "Where the Wild Things Are" on Saturday, January 7th. Free and open to the public!

Free
Event Details
Sunday
8 Jan
2023
2:00 pm

Maurice Sendak Through the Lens of Opera- a Tour with Ben Smith

Join us for a tour of Drawing the Curtain: Maurice Sendak's Designs for Opera and Ballet led by Ben Smith.

Free
Event Details

Artist

Curator

Artists + Curator

Maurice Sendak
Artist

Maurice Sendak

Maurice Sendak (1928-2012) was born on June 10, 1928, in Brooklyn, New York, to Jewish immigrant parents from Poland; much of his extended family died in the Holocaust. Recognizing from a young age that he was gay and coming of age during World War II, he had an early awareness of his multifaceted identity. This experience formed his mission as a children’s author and illustrator: providing young readers with stories to help them negotiate their own complicated emotions as they grow up in an inevitably flawed world.

A largely self-taught artist, Sendak wrote and illustrated over one hundred-fifty books during his sixty-year career. His best-known works include Very Far Away, Nutshell Library (consisting of Chicken Soup with Rice, Alligators All Around, One Was Johnny, and Pierre), Where the Wild Things Are, In the Night Kitchen, Outside Over There, We Are All in the Dumps with Jack and Guy, among many others.

He had been working in children’s literature for two decades when he was asked to design costumes and sets for a new production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute. A lifelong opera fan, Sendak leapt at the opportunity and said of his initiation into the world of stage design, “Fifty is a good time to either change careers or have a nervous breakdown.” He went on to design sets and costumes for multiple productions.

Maurice Sendak remains the most honored children’s book author and illustrator in U.S. history. He was the recipient of the 1964 Caldecott Medal, the 1971 Hans Christian Andersen Award, the 1983 Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, and the 2003 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award. In 1996 President Bill Clinton presented him with the National Medal of Arts in recognition of his contribution to the arts in America.

View Artist's Website

Artist

Maurice Sendak

Maurice Sendak (1928-2012) was born on June 10, 1928, in Brooklyn, New York, to Jewish immigrant parents from Poland; much of his extended family died in the Holocaust. Recognizing from a young age that he was gay and coming of age during World War II, he had an early awareness of his multifaceted identity. This experience formed his mission as a children’s author and illustrator: providing young readers with stories to help them negotiate their own complicated emotions as they grow up in an inevitably flawed world.

A largely self-taught artist, Sendak wrote and illustrated over one hundred-fifty books during his sixty-year career. His best-known works include Very Far Away, Nutshell Library (consisting of Chicken Soup with Rice, Alligators All Around, One Was Johnny, and Pierre), Where the Wild Things Are, In the Night Kitchen, Outside Over There, We Are All in the Dumps with Jack and Guy, among many others.

He had been working in children’s literature for two decades when he was asked to design costumes and sets for a new production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute. A lifelong opera fan, Sendak leapt at the opportunity and said of his initiation into the world of stage design, “Fifty is a good time to either change careers or have a nervous breakdown.” He went on to design sets and costumes for multiple productions.

Maurice Sendak remains the most honored children’s book author and illustrator in U.S. history. He was the recipient of the 1964 Caldecott Medal, the 1971 Hans Christian Andersen Award, the 1983 Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, and the 2003 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award. In 1996 President Bill Clinton presented him with the National Medal of Arts in recognition of his contribution to the arts in America.

View Artist's Website
Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art

Dr. Patricia Daigle

Patricia Lee Daigle is Associate Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. She came to the Brooks in December 2021 from the Dixon Gallery and Gardens where she served as Assistant Curator. Prior to this, Patricia was Director of The Martha and Robert Fogelman Galleries of Contemporary Art and Visiting Assistant Professor in Art History at The University of Memphis from 2015 to 2020. A specialist in twentieth-century American art with an emphasis on race and representation, she received her Ph.D. in the History of Art and Architecture from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and her B.A. in Art History and Anthropology from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Patricia has organized numerous highly regarded exhibitions including Jefferson Pinder: Thin Skin / Shock Layer (2019), Virginia Overton (2018), Umar Rashid (Frohawk Two Feathers): The Belhaven Republic (a delta blues), 1793-1795 (2017), and Rodrigo Valenzuela: Frontiers (2016) at The Martha and Robert Fogelman Galleries of Contemporary Art. From 2008-2014, Patricia worked as Curatorial Assistant in Contemporary Art at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, where she curated the exhibitions Living in the Timeless: Drawings by Beatrice Wood (2014) and Myth and Materiality: Latin American Art from the Permanent Collection,1930-1990 (2013) and contributed to several major exhibitions and publications including Labour and Wait (2013), Pasadena to Santa Barbara: A Selected History of Art in Southern California, 1951-1969 (2012), Charles Garabedian: A Retrospective (2011), and Yinka Shonibare, MBE: A Flying Machine for Every Man, Woman, and Child and Other Astonishing Works (2009).

Dr. Patricia Daigle

Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art

Dr. Patricia Daigle

Patricia Lee Daigle is Associate Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. She came to the Brooks in December 2021 from the Dixon Gallery and Gardens where she served as Assistant Curator. Prior to this, Patricia was Director of The Martha and Robert Fogelman Galleries of Contemporary Art and Visiting Assistant Professor in Art History at The University of Memphis from 2015 to 2020. A specialist in twentieth-century American art with an emphasis on race and representation, she received her Ph.D. in the History of Art and Architecture from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and her B.A. in Art History and Anthropology from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Patricia has organized numerous highly regarded exhibitions including Jefferson Pinder: Thin Skin / Shock Layer (2019), Virginia Overton (2018), Umar Rashid (Frohawk Two Feathers): The Belhaven Republic (a delta blues), 1793-1795 (2017), and Rodrigo Valenzuela: Frontiers (2016) at The Martha and Robert Fogelman Galleries of Contemporary Art. From 2008-2014, Patricia worked as Curatorial Assistant in Contemporary Art at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, where she curated the exhibitions Living in the Timeless: Drawings by Beatrice Wood (2014) and Myth and Materiality: Latin American Art from the Permanent Collection,1930-1990 (2013) and contributed to several major exhibitions and publications including Labour and Wait (2013), Pasadena to Santa Barbara: A Selected History of Art in Southern California, 1951-1969 (2012), Charles Garabedian: A Retrospective (2011), and Yinka Shonibare, MBE: A Flying Machine for Every Man, Woman, and Child and Other Astonishing Works (2009).

Exhibition curator

Rachel Federman

Exhibition curator Dr. Rachel Federman is Associate Curator of Modern and Contemporary Drawings at the Morgan Library & Museum. In addition to Drawing the Curtain: Maurice Sendak's Designs for Opera and Ballet, she has curated exhibitions of experimental drawings from the Morgan collection, drawings by Black artists from the American South, the beat artist Rick Barton, and the drawings of Bridget Riley, which can currently be seen at the Art Institute of Chicago.  Rachel has published essays on Bruce Conner, Richard Diebenkorn, and Betye Saar, among others. She holds a PhD in Art History from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University.  

Rachel Federman

Exhibition curator

Rachel Federman

Exhibition curator Dr. Rachel Federman is Associate Curator of Modern and Contemporary Drawings at the Morgan Library & Museum. In addition to Drawing the Curtain: Maurice Sendak's Designs for Opera and Ballet, she has curated exhibitions of experimental drawings from the Morgan collection, drawings by Black artists from the American South, the beat artist Rick Barton, and the drawings of Bridget Riley, which can currently be seen at the Art Institute of Chicago.  Rachel has published essays on Bruce Conner, Richard Diebenkorn, and Betye Saar, among others. She holds a PhD in Art History from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University.  

Program Recordings

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Resources

Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?

Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?

The American art theorist Linda Nochlin (1931-2017) posed this question as the title of a pioneering article in 1971. This essay was considered one of the first major works of Feminist art history, it has become a set text for those who study art internationally, and it is influential in many other fields.

Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists? by Linda Nochlin