Friday, September 18, 2009

Lillian Hellman Poster

In 1975, Edward Gorey created a poster for the Trinity Square Repertory Company for their Lillian Hellman Tribute, which consisted of productions of two plays which Hellman wrote. This poster has a rather curious history.

For many years, Gotham Book Mart had displayed a framed copy of the poster in their second floor gallery. The piece was always a favorite of my partner Bill's, and we asked if GBM had any for sale. After checking, we were informed that the posters must have been mislaid - the only copy they could find was the framed piece (which was not for sale). I would check every two years or so, but the posters were not to be found.

Sometime around 2000 (I can't remember the exact year, but it was after Mr. Gorey had died), one of these posters showed up on eBay. I contacted Gotham to find out if they had found them, was told the poster would soon be available, and was able to acquire one.

What happened is this: The theater was cleaning out storage space and was throwing away old posters, programs, etc. Someone not connected with the theater did a "dumpster dive" and retrieved a stash of these posters, then put one up on eBay. GBM saw the posting, contacted the seller and was able to acquire the entire stash of saved posters! It turns out that only one poster was ever sent to Gotham in 1975, and the remaining stock were in storage at the theater for over 25 years until they were saved from a dumpster!

12 comments:

David F said...

I have one signed and numbered (27/100)

ampootozote said...

Interesting. I have not heard of this poster being signed and numbered (but so many things were, it is hard to keep up). Do you know any background information the limited edition? Did you buy it from Gotham or another source?

Anonymous said...

I knew the costume designer. He was a professor of mine at Boston University. He knew how much I like Gorey's work and gave it to me.

ampootozote said...

My guess is that the poster was only available at the theater as a limited edition. Mr. Gorey often did a limited edition of posters for theatrical productions which sold out at the theater. Thanks for expanding the knowledge on this piece!

mrs. clark said...

I remember this poster being sold as a fund raiser for Trinity Square. $5 for the poster, $25 for a signed poster. there were 100 signed posters.

Anonymous said...

Wonder what I could sell it for now............

Michael Guy said...

I'm coming to these posts a little late, but as it would be Mr. Gorey's birthday today, we are posting a small picture of of the Hellman poster on Trinity Rep's Facebook page. Unfortunately, the poster pictured on the Goreyana blog is a misprint -- the entire first delivery was misprinted with the tan color on the bit of white dress behind the tree. All of the misprints were supposed to be destroyed immediately but were not until much later, after the theater had sold or given as gifts all of the approved posters. Those are the posters that were found in the dumpster.

ampootozote said...

What fun to learn more about this poster! Thanks for the info.

Joshua Clark said...

I just bought a signed copy of this picture at a Habitat for Humanities Resale Store in Kingsland, Ga not 30 minutes ago. I had no idea about the history but I thought that the picture was extremely interesting. It wasn't until I was taking it out of my car when I noticed that it was signed. I have number 96 of 100. I originally bought it for my sister because she loves this type of art, but now I am going to keep it for myself. Is that wrong? :)

ampootozote said...

Sounds like a keeper to me!

Joshua Clark said...

This is crazy...or fate! I just read that Edward Gorey is from Cape Cod. I just happen to be going up there in two weeks! I am going to try to stop by his house and view his exhibit. This is fantastic. I might have a new favorite artist!

Bob Thies said...

My wife just bought an unsigned copy, without the misprint, at a yard sale for$18. We're in Vermont. Apparently, this copy was acquired from a fine arts teacher a UMASS. They seem to travel!