Wednesday, May 22, 2024

A Visit, A Party & A New Book

This past weekend, Bill and I had the pleasure of a visit to our home from Carol Verburg. Ms. Verburg is an author, playwright, theatrical director and producer. She was also a personal friend of Edward Gorey and produced many of his Cape Cod theatrical entertainments in the 1990's. Our visit passed much too quickly and we look forward to spending time with her again.

In addition to her previously published books on Edward Gorey's Cape Cod theatricals, Ms. Verburg has a new volume being published in October titled The Theatrical Adventures of Edward Gorey. For more information on this upcoming book, go HERE.

Carol Verburg will be the featured guest at the upcoming Edward Gorey Summer Cocktail Soiree on Thursday July 31. She will give a brief talk at the event. This annual party is a fundraiser for The Edward Gorey Charitable Trust and will be held at the Strand Book Store in New York City. Tickets for the event are now on sale HERE. The event will once again include a silent auction.
 

Thursday, May 9, 2024

Happy Birthday Mr. Punch!

 

First mentioned on May 9, 1662 in Samuel Pepys' diary, today is Mr. Punch's 362 birthday! Edward Gorey created this fantastic full color poster in 1993 for Mystery! on PBS. For more on the history of Punch & Judy, visit this post by the Victoria and Albert Museum!

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Edward Gorey House 2024 Exhibition

The Edward Gorey House opens its 2024 exhibition Exquisite Corpse; Edward Gorey's Movable Books on April 4th. The exhibition focuses on Mr. Gorey's fascination with books as interactive objects. 

While the act of reading a book is an interaction between an author and his audience, pop-up, accordion pleated, and cut apart books take that engagement one step further, often blurring the line between book and toy.

These publications can only be fully experienced through the physical interaction of the reader in the same way that a toy can be admired, but only comes alive when played with. The artwork included in the exhibition explores Edward Gorey's imagination and the precision with which he created these works.

For more information and to plan your visit, go to www.edwardgoreyhouse.org. Now it also the time to renew or take out a House Membership to enjoy many benefits including discounts from the online and in person Gorey Store.

Images courtesy The Edward Gorey Charitable Trust and The Edward Gorey House.

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Happy Birthday Edward Gorey!

Edward Gorey (1925 - 2000) was born on this date 99 years ago!

Friday, February 16, 2024

Rework, Repair, Redraw

Edward Gorey was a imaginative illustrator who was master at creating intricately detailed artworks. While his drawings are highly prized and collected as works of art in their own right, Mr. Gorey's original intention in creating the pieces was to illustrate books, stories, articles, cards and posters. Because his focus was on how and image would be reproduced rather than on the artwork itself, it is not unusual to find corrections on the original art.

Trained "on the job" while working at Anchor Publishing in the 1950's, Edward Gorey intimately understood the printing process of the time and knew how to best create images for reproduction. As an illustrator for hire, he also understood printing deadlines and would take the most expedient path to finishing a piece. This meant that when a drawing required a change, he would have to decide how to fix the problem swiftly. His three options were to either rework, repair, or redraw the piece of artwork.

Rework - The simplest way to correct an errant line in a pen and ink illustration is to use opaque white paint. This method is universally adapted by illustrators but not by fine artists. A small dab of opaque white paint is applied to hide the offending line which then becomes invisible when photographed for printing.

This correction is usually noticeable to the naked eye when viewing the art in person but since the intent of the drawing is reproduction, the fix is invisible in the final printed piece. These quick fixes can sometimes become quite noticeable if the paper tones over time whereas the  paint remains bright white. 

The paper for both the Fonthill dust jacket/spine and the Un Cadeau Ennuyeux pieces have toned over time to show the painted corrections. The Fonthill drawing, which shows rather extensive correction appears to have been completely finished when something was either spilled nearby or there was an ink spatter while creating the work. The Un Cadeau Ennuyeux correction is a minor typography fix which would hardly call attention to itself but for the discoloration of the paper.

Repair - For more extensive changes, the illustrator can repair an image by "pasting up" a new piece of paper over the problem area and then correcting the image. This choice is most often employed because the drawing has been completed or is nearing completion, so the artist uses this method to make major adjustments to the image rather than starting over. Paste-ups are be found fairly frequently on Edward Gorey's illustrations, especially when typography within the image needs to be changed.

The repair is usually very obvious when the art is viewed in person, but once again is invisible to the camera. Edward Gorey favored a quick drying library paste for these fixes. Unfortunately, this glue turns dark brown fairly quickly, so it is not unusual to see traces of the glue around the paste-up area. Depending on the paper itself and the gusto with which it was applied, the glue can also leave a dark stain that seeps through to the surface of the overlay. This archively problematic glue also becomes brittle as it drys out and it is not unusual to find the paste-up curling or falling off the surface of the drawing.

When Scrap Irony went into a second printing and changed publishers, Edward Gorey modified the original artwork with two paste-ups. The date was changed from 1961 to 1962 and that paste up is still in place today. The larger paste-up with the publisher's name change fell off and was lost before I acquired this piece of art. The discoloration from the glue residue is clearly seen on the woman's scarf.

The cover art for The Worsted Monster, an unpublished book created in the 1950's by Edward Gorey, clearly shows the title paste-up precariously held in place by dried out glue. Nudging the paste-up, the title fell off quite easily to expose the original title lettering. 

After neutralizing the dried glue, the original title was reattached to the artwork using archival materials.

Redraw - The most extreme method of fixing a drawing is to start over completely. This is undertaken either because the image needs so many changes that it cannot be modified, or because the artist realizes very quickly that they should stop and begin again.

A prime example of replacing an image is Les Insectes Cyclistes from The Broken Spoke (1976). Initially assumed to be a sketch for the final art, it becomes obvious that Edward Gorey was working on the final artwork when he changed his mind as to how he was rendering the long legged insect's antenna. In the abandoned attempt, the antenna is lush and feathery while in the final artwork, the antenna is drawn as a thin line.

The precision in which the first attempt is executed clearly shows that Edward Gorey was creating a final piece of art. Mr. Gorey always started finished drawings by laying down the razor thin border line that would determine the perimeter of the drawing. When sketching out an idea, he might indicate a border but would not take care to render a finely defined line. The figures would also be more loosely rendered in a sketch. So why start over rather than fix with a dab of paint or a paste-up?

The answer lies in the fact that the drawing was in the very early stages and the background was going to be delicately painted in yellow watercolor. Watercolor paint will not cover white correction paint and the edges of the paper used for a paste-up prevent an even surface to the watercolor, so Mr Gorey decided it was best to begin the drawing over.

When considering a purchase of a piece of illustration art, some collectors shy away from works with noticeable corrections, while others celebrate the changes because they show the thought process and involvement of the artist while creating the piece. 

Images from my collection, and courtesy Russell Lehrer, Swann Auction Galleries and Freeman's/Hindman Auction House


Monday, January 1, 2024

Auction News - A Gorey Start to 2024

With the New Year's Eve fireworks still ringing in everyone's ears, 2024 started with a bang at Nadeau's Auction Gallery in Windsor, Connecticut. Their Annual New Year's Day auction included one piece of original art by Edward Gorey. Tennis was #25 of the 46 pieces of original art Mr. Gorey created for his 1974 Graham Gallery exhibition and sale in New York City. Tennis sold for $11,520.00 (hammer price plus buyer's premium), signaling a promising start for pieces by Edward Gorey that may come to auction in the coming year.

Last year the Gorey auction scene also began strong in January 2023 with a $7500.00 price for the cover art Edward Gorey created for the novel Fonthill in 1973. In an enexpected move, this piece of art reappeared at a different auction house in June and failed to sell. 

A complete set of the limited edition etchings Edward Gorey created with Diogenes in 1978 (each print numbered 59/120) sold for $3144.00 at Rago Arts and Auction Center on June 1st, 2023. 

The next auction of Gorey original artworks was the highly anticipated The Edward Gorey Cocktail Party; or, A Nocturne At The Strand fundraiser hosted by the Edward Gorey Charitable Trust on August 9th. Seven pieces of original art were auctioned at the charity event including Cat on a mantle. which sold for $3600.00. (see the blog postings from August 2023 to view all the art that was sold).

The fall auction schedule had a strong showing with four original works by Edward Gorey selling at Heritage Auctions of Dallas, Texas on October 6. The three lots shown above are a two page spread Three Ladies beside the Sea which sold for $7500.00, Fibroid Studge from The Unrest-Cure which sold for $6000.00 and two drawings from Merry, Rose and Christmas Tree June which were sold together for $3500.00.

A fourth drawing Scottish Fling is a lively dance image created for use as a note card for the New York City Ballet. This piece sold for $4250.00.

Freeman's Auction House dominated the Gorey auction scene with their sale on November 16th that included five original works by Edward Gorey. The star of the event, which included numerous works by Mr. Gorey from the collection of Valerie and Matthew Young was A stunning full color painting titled Contestants in the annual Trans-Novaya Zemlya Bicycle Race that sold for $15,120.00. This piece was created for The Broken Spoke in 1976.

In addition to original art by Edward Gorey, numerous books, prints, posters, stuffed creatures and ephemera have appeared throughout the year at various auction venues, book fairs, and through rare book dealers giving collectors a wide selection of material to covet and acquire. Here's hoping that 2024 will generate even more collecting enthusiasm and excitement.

(photos courtesy of Nadeau's Auction House, Swann Auction Galleries, Rago Arts and Auction Center, Freeman's Auction House, and The Edward Gorey Charitable Trust)

 

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Christmas Surprises

The holiday season was extra Goreylicious this year. Over the past few years, my husband Bill has been creating Earbrass-inspired toys as gifts for me. This year he wanted to create a multipurpose figurine/tree topper inspired by the floating angels Edward Gorey would feature in Christmas Card images. Balancing on one toe, the Earbrass Angel is bringing a tinsel garland to festoon a Christmas tree.

The Angel joins the three other toy figurines he has made annually. The Angel comes complete with a church steeple shaped base to hover above. The body of the Angel has a large spring that gives him a distinctive wobble.

Bill designed the Angel to be easily removable from the steeple and also made a large spring shaped support so he can be used on a Christmas tree.

In the process of making the Angel, Bill also made several extra heads. Rather than setting them aside, he decide to turn them into various character ornaments to grace the pink tinsel tree. We now have the beginnings of a Gorey Christmas Tree that will be added to over the years. We are thinking of making a Gorey Bat Garland to grace the tree next Christmas.