Friday, April 17, 2015

Edward Gorey His Book Cover Art & Design

Edward Gorey His Book Cover Art & Design is the latest in the long line of books about Edward Gorey and his work. Published by Pomegranate, this handsome 131 page hardcover volume features a large color photograph on almost every page. The covers featured in this volume concentrate on Mr. Gorey's early years, as does the lengthy and informative essay by Steven Heller. A sampling of covers created after 1970 are included, but the focus of this volume is on Mr. Gorey's early work.
This new volume elegantly promenades each cover on a single (and occasionally double) page spread. The book is not intended as a bibliography and therefore does not show every cover designed by Mr. Gorey. The presentation gives the reader the opportunity to drink in the unique quality of each design, comparing and contrasting Mr. Gorey's earliest works with more mature efforts.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

2015 Edward Gorey House Exhibition

Get your travel plans set to visit The Edward Gorey House this year because the new exhibition will open on April 16th. Now in its 13th, the EGH celebrates the life and work of Edward Gorey with annual themed exhibitions or original artwork, printed materials, unusual memorabilia, and eclectic ephemera from his life. Making the experience unique, the museum is housed in the home Mr.
Gorey lived in.

A prolific illustrator and author, Edward Gorey published his own works while also illustrating hundreds of books by other authors. The 2015 exhibition is titled, From Aesop To Updike Edward Gorey's Book Cover Art & Design, and features books and original artwork from Mr. Gorey's earliest days working at Anchor Publishing to the posthumously printed Cautionary Tales by Hilaire Belloc.

For more information on The Edward Gorey House and the 2015 exhibition, go HERE.

Monday, March 16, 2015

National Post Card Week Original Artwork

From 1984 to 1996, Edward Gorey created a series of postcards celebrating National Postcard Week for Gotham Book Mart (See my post from May 4, 2012). The cards announce an annual exhibition of postcards at the gallery.

The original artwork from the 1993 card shows a young woman leaping over the outstretched arms of an adoring male audience in the moonlight. As she soars above them, she is scattering a postcard for each to catch. All of the open hands wear a matching ring, and presumably matching tuxedos. The crosshatched background deepens behind the woman, giving the image the appearance of a stage set. This artwork has been reproduced many times with the lettering removed from the sash.

It is always interesting to compare Mr. Gorey's original uncropped artwork to the final cropped image. For this image, the cropping shortens the arms on the left and cleans up the edges, tightening the image and focusing our attention on the woman. The uneven edge on the original art reveals the hand work involved in producing the crosshatched background, bringing Mr. Gorey's involvement with the piece alive.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Ineptitude and Frivolity

Over the span of more than 25 years, the work of Edward Gorey appeared in The New Yorkermagazine. Advertisements, spot illustrations, a cover design, and independent works appeared alongside the magazine's oblique cartoons, articles, and reviews. Edmund Wilson also famously reviewed Edward Gorey's early books in the magazine in December 1959.

Two wonderful pieces by Mr. Gorey appeared in 1993 as full page illustrations (magazine scans shown). The first appeared with the title, Artist's Notebook by Edward Gorey in the March 22, 1993 issue. The image shows Frivolity donning the Galoshes of Remorse. This fantastic image appears at the beginning of Amphigorey Again and can be purchased as a print from The Edward Gorey House HERE.

A seldom seen companion piece appeared in the May 10, 1993 issue entitled Blemished Escutcheons by Edward Gorey. This equally wonderful piece features Ineptitude being saved by World Success. Visually, the vignette for this piece is highly reminiscent of the images Mr. Gorey created for Mystery!.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Happy Birthday Edward Gorey!

Happy 90th Birthday Edward Gorey!

Raise a cup of QRV
Snuggle in with your favorite Gorey volume
Celebrate and Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Edward Gorey Stained Glass Original Artwork

As a youth, Edward Gorey attended the Francis Parker School in Chicago. In 1940, when he was in the 11th grade, Gorey created a stained glass window design for the annual Christmas concert. The "window" was constructed as a backdrop for the school chorus and can be seen in the background of yearbook photos from the concert.
The original cartoon for the window (stained glass window designs are called cartoons) recently surfaced, and is now in my collection. The design is rendered in pencil and crayon, and depicts three monks raising their tankards which are being filled by a winged cherub holding grapes turning into wine. The flying figure is also holding a curling banner with an inscription. The words are penciled on the left side of the drawing and seem to be "cum beatitudinibus Bacchi" or approximately "with blessed and blissful drunken revelers".

The shape of the original cartoon was an elaborate rounded arch, but this was changed to a simpler Gothic arch for the final piece. The change in shape is indicated in pencil on the drawing. The piecework on the original cartoon is also quite complicated. When the set piece was built, much of the line work was simplified, and the cherub's positioning was changed. He no longer holds the banner which floats above the heads of the monks, and it appears that his wing now covers his bare bottom!

The completed "window" gave the stage a "church" backdrop for the choir, as can be seen in the black and white yearbook photos, however the subject matter of the design is an interesting choice.
In the original cartoon, Gorey added details which gave each monk personality and showed them enjoying their alcoholic beverages. Their smiling faces and red noses indicate that a good time is being had by all! These details are difficult to see clearly in the yearbook photos of the choir with the finished piece, but they appear to be less prominent.
To enlarge the design, Edward Gorey began by drawing a grid and numbering each square. This is a basic method that art students are taught for drawing an image to scale. When a larger grid is created, the image within each square is enlarged to the size of the new square. This allows the artist to easily recreate the image at the larger size without distortion.

It's difficult to say whether the finished window may have been backlit. The yearbook does refer to the room being darkened as the Special Chorus entered to take their place onstage with the regular chorus, in front of "a beautiful stained glass window". While the window design looks like a stained glass window, further changes would be needed to be able to truly render this design in glass. There are several pieces with severe in-cuts that would not be possible if the design were to be actually created in glass.

Monday, February 2, 2015

The Art of Murder

On a recent visit to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, I came across a two room exhibition of prints entitled The Art of Murder. A warning outside the gallery states that the exhibit might not be suitable for young children.

Included in the exhibit are a series of prints, many of great antiquity, each of which depicts the act of murder. Along with the usual representations of religious crucifixions are several pieces that reminded me strongly of the works of Edward Gorey.
On display are a number of prints showing Judith beheading Holofernes. It struck me that the gallery's child warning was amusing given that Mr. Gorey included a painting of Judith in his art gallery image for a Town & Country Magazine article entitled, "Art is Fun".

Also on display at the MIA is an 1848 glyphograph by George Cruikshank titled, "The Maniac Father and the Convict Brother are Gone - The Poor Girl, Homeless, Friendless, Deserted, Destitute, and Gin Mad, Commits Self Murder" (see image at the top of the post). Of course, the title alone could easily be the plot line of one of Mr. Gorey's books.

This image reminded me of several illustrations by Edward Gorey - the first from The Object Lesson, and the second from The Fatal Lozenge. Both of these illustrations bear a striking resemblance to the Cruikshank image.