Thursday, August 16, 2018

Mark Baker


Actor Mark Baker, who was nominated for a Tony Award for his 1973 title role in director Hal Prince's Candide has passed. Mr. Baker was also well received in the international tour of Grand Hotel in which he played the role of Otto Kringelein.

Fans of Edward Gorey's theatrical endeavors fondly remember Mr. Baker as one of the talented company of players in Amphigorey, A Musicale. The 1994 Off Broadway production ran at the Perry Street Theater in New York City. Mr. Baker was 71.


Saturday, August 4, 2018

Gorey's Worlds ... Again!



Gorey's Worlds, the exhibition mounted by The Wadsworth Atheneum earlier this year, will be on display at the David Owsley Mueum of Art in Muncie, Indiana from September 28 through December 23 (museum exhibition information HERE).

This stellar exhibition features original artwork, prints, and photographs collected by Edward Gorey during his lifetime which he bequeathed to the Wadsworth. These pieces, which decorated Mr. Gorey's home, informed and inspired his own artwork. Also included in the exhibition are rare original pieces of Mr. Gorey's own work.

*** Color dust wrapper design by Edward Gorey for Haunted America (collection Wadsworth Atheneum, gift of Edward Gorey)
*** Photograph by Eugene Atget (collection Wadsworth Atheneum, gift of Edward Gorey)


Monday, July 30, 2018

Edward Gorey House Envelope Contest


It is time once again for the Edward Gorey House Envelope Art Contest. Anyone can enter for the cost of a stamp and an envelope! All ages are encouraged to get creative and send in a decorated envelope! Full contest details are here:  http://www.edwardgoreyhouse.org/events


Sunday, July 22, 2018

A Frog On An Urn


Long hot summer days often lead to inactivity and contemplation. This unpublished piece of original artwork by Edward Gorey exemplifies slowing down the hectic pace of life. A forgotten urn resides on a gently sloping, unkempt landscape with wispy clouds gently floating past. The only witness to this tranquil day is a wide eyed frog positioned atop the urn.

This beautifully rendered pen & ink drawing was originally intended for a book by Edward Gorey but either the book or the drawing were abandoned along the way. Mr. Gorey later presented this drawing to a personal friend. On artwork created for Mr. Gorey's "A" collection books, there will be a hand written date on the reverse side indicating when it was drawn. If a drawing was completed over several days, there is a start date and a finish date. When completed in a single day, there is only one date indicated. This drawing was created on October 1, 1984. Searching Mr. Gorey's published works near (and after) this date, I have not been able to determine what future book it might have been intended for. One possibility would be The Improvable Landscape (1986).

 In this drawing, Edward Gorey's talent and skillful manipulation of line is supremely evident. The presence of the contemplative frog atop the urn adds an endearing touch to the work.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Summertime Friends


 This two page spread entitled Old-Time Summer Treat is from the July 1964 issue of Friends magazine. Chevrolet produced Friends magazine from 1960 until the mid/late 60's as an auto showroom giveaway extolling the virtues of owning your own car so you could travel and see the "real" America. Edward Gorey produced numerous illustrations to accompany articles in the magazine.

Long hot summer days are made to be enjoyed with ice cream.  Even in 1964, home made ice cream appears to be a nostalgic treat from the past. The article sings its praises as a tasty family bonding activity, when in fact making ice cream at home required specialized tools, high quality ingredients, a good recipe, time and a certain amount of skill. Perhaps it would have been more appropriate for the auto maker to suggest an outing in the family car to a drive in for ice cream on a hot summer day!

Friends' Art director Robert Weeks was an avid fan and collector of Mr. Gorey's works and commissioned spot illustrations for the magazine, acquiring many of the originals once they were used. In 1993 Mr. Weeks collection of books and artwork was sold through Gotham Book Mart, and the artwork for Old-Time Summer Treat was included in the pieces being offered.

I am showing a scan of the fax that Gotham Book Mart sent me when the artwork was being offered. Due to the size of the magazine, this artwork was drawn on two panels. I was not able to purchase this piece, but did acquire one of the other Friends pieces offered at that time.

Old-Time Summer Treat features delightful vignettes of children and animals at play, enjoying ice cream on a summer day with the sun smiling upon them from above. Mr. Gorey uses a playful drawing style full of movement and gentle humor for this piece. One of my favorite parts of the drawing is the small dog who is enjoying a large bowl of ice cream that presumably was left unattended by the children flying a kite.







Monday, June 25, 2018

Crosshatching As A Way Of Life


How many pen strokes did Edward Gorey make to create a single drawing? The answer, of course, will vary depending on the drawing, but the concept is intriguing.

In my previous post, I discussed the Dracula set designs and pointed out that a team of scenic artists had to translate Mr. Gorey's scaled drawings into full sized set pieces. The concept of recreating the heavily crosshatched drawings must have been a sobering assignment...which begs the question, "How many pen strokes needed to be recreated?"

For the Vault drawing shown above, I counted 270 individual stones that had to be drawn. Enlarging the image, I selected numerous stones of varying sizes and shapes and set about counting the pen strokes. My calculations determined that the stones averaged about 75 pen strokes per stone. It should be noted that on the original artwork, a large stone is about 7/16" wide by 3/8" tall and some are much smaller.

This roughly translates to 20,250 pen strokes for the stone wall alone, not including the pile of skulls or the two bodies. It also does not take into account the added pen strokes made to outline the stones and to darken the outer edge of the set piece, so it can be assumed that Edward Gorey created at least 25,000 pen strokes to make this one drawing. This drawing represents only one section of the set for Act 3 making well over a million hash marks for this sets for all three acts combined.


Sunday, June 17, 2018

Dracula Set Design Original Artwork


Edward Gorey's long association with the vampire legend of Dracula began when he first read the novel by Bram Stoker as a young child. By the mid 1970's, Dracula and Edward Gorey would become forever linked to one another.


The 1970's were an incredibly prolific time for Edward Gorey. During this decade (Gorey turned 45 in 1970) he published 33 of his own works, created book covers and illustrations for works by other authors, did spot illustrations and advertisements for magazines & periodicals, created original artwork for two Fine Art exhibitions at Graham Gallery, and designed the theatrical sets and costumes, including two seminal productions of Dracula.

In the early 70's, Edward Gorey was approached to design sets and costumes for a production of Dracula that was mounted at a theater in Nantucket in 1973. The success of this production, due to Mr. Gorey's unique contributions, lead to a 1977 Broadway revival of the play, which was billed as The Edward Gorey Production of Dracula. To seal the lid on the vampire's coffin, Mr. Gorey also designed a Dracula Toy Theater in 1979 (see above photo). Two editions of the Bram Stoker novel, one produced by Barnes & Noble in 1996 and an unfinished version also have illustrations by Mr. Gorey.


For each of these ventures, Edward Gorey completely reworked and redrew all the settings and characters depicted in the story. For the Nantucket production, Mr. Gorey came up with stone wall inset with bat topped arches into which panels would be inserted to change the settings for each act of the play (see above drawing). While he never abandoned this basic format, each incarnation changed and became more layered and elaborate. The bats multiplied, and the bodies continued to pile up in subsequent interpretations.

Many of the original set drawings from both productions of Dracula are in private collections and have been included in museum exhibitions of Edward Gorey's works. These highly detailed works of art are beautifully executed and often have descriptive production notes written in the outer margins because they are the working drawings from which the scene shops created the sets.

A recent acquisition is a Dracula set drawing from Act 3 of the Broadway production. This insert panel appears on the right side of the stage in The Vault (or Crypt) and shows a catacombs style final resting place of two of Dracula's victims with a pile of discarded human skulls on the floor. A similar burial wall appears on the left side of the stage.

It should be noted that all the sets for Dracula were hand painted by talented scene shop artists. Every cross hatched line on the walls, furniture, and floor had to be recreated to size by hand...a task almost as astounding as Edward Gorey's fanatical crosshatched drawings themselves. The final photo shows actor Raul Julia in costume on the Broadway set (Mr. Julia succeeded Frank Langella in the title role).



Dracula Broadway set photos from the New York Public Library Digital Collections.