Before the wild things

Maurice Sendak exhibition catalogue 1975

Shelf Appeal likes an exhibition catalogue. Or two. Particularly those little catalogues it seems aren’t viable to produce much any more. Not at the big galleries and museums anyway. They make blockbuster catalogues in the same way they make blockbuster exhibitions. Size matters.

This little corker of a catalogue is for a Maurice Sendak exhibition in 1975 at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. Having the guts to leave a cover without text and then using the illustration in a clever way, so that the wild thing looks to the title on the back cover, well, it’s just grand. And I love the fact that the chapter about Sendak’s early illustrations is called Before The Wild Things.

This was printed at The Bodley Head and was designed (along with the exhibition poster) by the then art director of The Bodley Head – John Ryder. The Foreword tells us Bodley were Mr Sendak’s publishers in England at the time. They still are, I think. Ryder had a long professional relationship with Sendak. And obviously he was one of those rare art directors who knew not mess with an illustration like that.

Maurice Sendak exhibition catalogue spread 1975



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