What an American printmaker has to do with Mozart.
After this morning’s bittersweetly funny Sendak remembrance, a trip to his more serious and obscure past: In 2003, Sendak collaborated with Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner on Brundibar — a WWII children’s opera, originally written by Czech composer Hans Krása, which the duo adapted into a book illustrated by Sendak and an opera for which Sendak designed the sets and costumes. But Sendak’s fascination with the opera dated back some three decades, to the 1970s, when he began collaborating with printmaker Kenneth Tyler while working on sets and costumes for Mozart’s The Magic Flute and Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker.
As Marabeth Cohen-Tyler notes, these operas inspired him to create a wealth of sketches, drawings, and watercolors. Some of them appeared in his beloved book Nutcracker and others were printed at Tyler Graphics between 1977 and 1984, and again in 2002, employing lithography and intaglio processes. But circumstances prevented any of these editions from being published. The inventory of rare proofs, collected here as the project’s intaglio ghosts, was signed in 2002, and the prints divided three-ways between Sendak, to the National Gallery of Australia’s Kenneth Tyler Print Collection, and to Tyler’s own personal collection. Sendak went on to hand-watercolor some of the black-and-white intaglios, including Wild Thing and Ida.
Images courtesy of the National Gallery of Australia’s Kenneth Tyler Print Collection