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.





Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Auction News


The June 5 Illustration Art Auction at Swann Auction Galleries in New York City featured a nice selection of original published artwork, preliminary sketches, and working notebook sketches by Edward Gorey. The eight lots represented Mr. Gorey's work from the 1950's through 1998. Sale prices for all but one item fell within or below the pre-sale estimates, and two color sketches for book covers from the 1950's failed to sell.

Fans of the supernatural mystery book series begun by author John Bellairs and later continued by Brad Stickland had the rare opportunity to acquire a piece of artwork from The Specter from the Magician's Museum. This beautifully executed pen and ink drawing was one of the deals of the day, selling below its pre-sale estimate.

The Broadway production of Dracula was represented by three rare sketchbook pages (sold as a single lot) containing set and costume notes and sketches.

The star piece by Edward Gorey was a large pen, ink & watercolor cover design for the May 19, 1975 issue of Publisher's Weekly Magazine. This piece (shown at the top of this post) sold for almost twice its estimate.


Monday, May 14, 2018

Preservation


Building a collection of original illustration artwork is a rewarding experience that at times can also be vexing. Because the printed piece was considered the finished product, vintage illustration artwork has often been stored and treated with less than careful handling. This can result in a variety of imperfections appearing on the piece.

The most common problems with vintage illustration artwork are A) non-archival glues used to affix paste-up changes to the works B) toning and discoloration to the work because of exposure to sunlight, and C) the appearance of mold and mildew on the surface. For the serious collector, condition is an important consideration on any acquisition, and a good paper restorer can work wonders on a piece of artwork that is in need of some TLC.

The Worsted Monster had two main issues - the paste-up title change was coming off because the old glue had dried out, and there were multiple spots of mold on the surface of the artwork. After carefully removing the paste-up and neutralizing the paper, the title was repositioned using archival materials. Fortunately, the glue did not seep through and discolor the paste-up.

The more difficult restoration on this piece was the removal of mold spots that dotted the surface. The restorer spent over two hours painstakingly removing each spot of mold individually. Once all the spots were removed, the entire work was neutralized. The piece is now mold free and newly framed.









Saturday, May 5, 2018

Gorey's Worlds...Last Chance Weekend



Gorey's Worlds, the exhibition at the Wadsworth Atheneum closes on Sunday May 6. Here is an interesting article about Edward Gorey and the exhibition.

https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2018/05/10/edward-gorey-art-of-elsewhere


Thursday, April 26, 2018

Auction News


The spring auction season is in full swing, and works by Edward Gorey continue to do quite well in the sales.

Heritage Auctions in Dallas, Texas offered The Swimming Pool, an original pen and ink drawing from The Dream World of Dion McGregor, which sold for $4250.00 (hammer price plus buyer's premium). As the title suggests, the subject of this book is the author's dreams, and Edward Gorey's illustrations from this work have appropriately unusual elements.


As part of their April 26th Fine Illustrated Books & Graphics  auction, Swann Auction Galleries offered seven lots of material by Edward Gorey that included original artwork, prints, and ephemera. Three limited edition etchings, each hand signed by Mr. Gorey sold for well above their pre-sale estimates. A very rare, limited edition Doubtful Guest Doll in its original box from 1974 sold for $3750.00.


The most unusual item to be offered at the sale was a hand made Going Away Card created by Edward Gorey for a departing colleague from the time when Mr. Gorey worked at Doubleday and Company. The pen & ink with watercolor card is a one of a kind piece created with obvious affection for the co-worker.





Monday, April 9, 2018

2018 Edward Gorey House Exhibition


The Edward Gorey House opens its annual exhibition on Thursday April 12. Murder He Wrote, Edward Gorey and the Art of the Mystery will be on display at until December 30 of this year.

Each year, the Edward Gorey House puts together a unique display of works by and about Mr. Gorey. These themed exhibitions draw on pieces in the Gorey Archives, and also on loans of rare materials from private collectors. Each exhibition is a unique opportunity to view works inside the home where Mr. Gorey created many of his signature works.  

Edward Gorey was an avid murder mystery reader, and he was especially fond of the works of Agatha Christie, to whom he dedicated his 1971 book, The Awdrey-Gore Legacy. Original artwork from this, and several other published works by Mr. Gorey will be displayed in the exhibition. Crimes, both perpetrated and solved, will be explored and revealed. Previously unpublished artwork by Mr. Gorey will be included in the exhibit, giving visitors the added thrill of seeing artwork for the first time. Plan your visit now!





Monday, April 2, 2018

Visiting the Wadsworth



This is a fun record of artist Deb Lucke's visit to the Gorey's Worlds at the Wadsworth Atheneum as told, and drawn, by the artist herself. It appeared in March 27, 2017 issue of The New Yorker magazine. Visit the page HERE