Sunday, February 8, 2009

1968 Edward Gorey Museum Show

In 1968, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts gave Edward Gorey his first major museum exhibition, Drawings and Books by Edward Gorey. The show was the brainchild of Charles Paul Helsell, assistant curator of the Department of Prints and Drawings at the MIA. Mr. Helsell was an early Gorey fan and collector, and many of the books displayed were culled from his and 3 other private collections. Original artwork for the exhibition was borrowed from Mr. Gorey.

Running from September 18th through October 27th, 1968 in the Herschel V. Jones Print Gallery, the exhibition included original artwork from eight of Gorey's books and had a total of 29 volumes on display. This exhibition was in fact a retrospective of Gorey's works to date, and The Institute of Arts gave the exhibition full treatment, producing an 11" x 17" poster/mailer and an eight page illustrated catalog (stated edition of 1000 copies). On the reverse of the poster was the MIA's return address and non-profit stamp because the poster was made to be folded in half and mailed out. Mr. Gorey does not appear to have created any artwork specifically for this show.

I met Mr. Helsell in 1984, when the Institute was preparing Gorey's second exhibition at the museum. Even though Mr. Helsell had left the MIA, he was called in as a consultant for the second exhibition. During preparations for the '84 show, Mr. Helsell presented me with a copy of the 1968 catalog which he inscribed for me on the last page. Printed at the back of the '68 museum booklet, Mr. Helsell contributed a short essay about Gorey's works, which he ends by stating that the work "has a quality which lingers after it has entertained or diverted. That is the elusiveness of his books."

Included in the exhibition:

Original Art and Books:
The Curious Sofa (an interesting choice for original art given the "pornographic" nature of the piece)
The Hapless Child
The Willowdale Handcar
The Vinegar Works (Art from all three volumes)
The Remembered Visit
The Gilded Bat

Additional Books on Display:
The Unstrung Harp
The Listing Attic
The Object-Lesson
The Bug Book
The Fatal Lozenge
The Beastly Baby
The Wuggly Ump
The Nursery Frieze
The Sinking Spell
The Pious Infant
The Evil Garden
The Inanimate Tragedy
The Utter Zoo
The Other Statue
The Monster Den by John Ciardi
The Adventures of Gremlin by DuPre Jones
The Dream World of Dion MacGregor by Dion MacGregor
The Haunted Looking Glass
You Read to Me, I'll Read to You by John Ciardi
The Jumblies by Edward Lear

1 comment:

Melissa the Holiday Queen said...

Oooohhhh... so glad to have found another Gorey fan!