Photo: Maurice Sendak, 'Infant Innocence'

The Grimms’ Wild Rumpus

An upcoming auction features a look into the whimsical fairytale images of Maurice Sendak

THE CURRENT ISSUE OF Orion was an opportunity to revisit fairy tales with fresh eyes. Why were so many of us afraid of the woods? Were wolves really so bloodthirsty, or were they just desperate to reclaim the space where they once were permitted to live? In mulling over the stories that were most formative to us, we returned to picture books, and, inevitably, to the work of Maurice Sendak, known of course for Where the Wild Things Are, though for me it was In the Night Kitchen that I loved best of all, with its giant spoons and eggplant backdrops.

And apparently we weren’t the only ones making the intuitive leap. Through Justin Schiller, a close friend of Sendak’s, we heard about a forthcoming auction of his fairy tale illustrations at Heritage Auctions in Dallas. “Sendak did not illustrate at children,” says Schiller. “He illustrated for children, for the young adults they were becoming,” which made him the perfect reader for Grimms’ fairy tales — another body of work often seen as too violent for children. (Did I mention the SS-like bakers who stick In the Night Kitchen’s Mickey in an oven?)

–Sumanth Prabhaker

Selections of Sendak’s illustrated Brothers Grimm are below, along several other of his works on fairy tales. 



Images and information about all lots in the auction can be found at