Wednesday, February 10, 2010

1984 Minneapolis Institute of Arts Exhibition, part 1

In 1984/1985, Edward Gorey had a major exhibition at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (MIA) titled Gorey Stories, Drawings & Books by Edward Gorey, which was displayed in the Leslie Memorial Room of the MIA's library. I have mentioned this exhibition in many earlier posts, primarily because it is the one major Edward Gorey museum exhibition with which I have been personally involved (to date). Even though this exhibition took place early in my collecting career, the majority of the books on display were lent to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts from my personal collection.

Pictured on this post is the poster which Mr. Gorey created for the show, the cover of the exhibition catalog and the front and inside of a Holiday Program Guide from the Institute.

When Harold (Hal) Peterson, the head librarian for the museum decided to mount the exhibition, he and I had several meetings to compare the MIA's holdings (they seem to have been de-accessioned since that time) and discuss what additional pieces would be of interest to display. I introduced Hal to Gotham Book Mart and armed with our list of recommended items to borrow, he took a trip to NYC to discuss the loan of original art for the exhibition.

Exhibition space was limited, and after meeting with Andreas Brown at GBM, it was decided that the MIA would borrow original art from The West Wing, The Loathsome Couple and The Eclectic Abecedarium. Contracts were signed and the art was to be sent to the MIA in August of 1983.

The Minneapolis Institute of Arts is one of three institutions that reside on one very large city block in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The other two arts institutions are The Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD), and The Children's Theatre Company (CTC). In early June 1983, a sexual molestation case involving the director of CTC and several students broke and became national news. When they read of this during the summer months, Mr. Gorey and Mr. Brown decided not to send the drawings from The Loathsome Couple to the MIA for fear of bad publicity. At the last minute, they substituted drawings from The Water Flowers. Also missing from the intended originals were the drawings from The West Wing. I no longer remember why these drawings were not sent, but no replacement was substituted.

Mr. Gorey was invited to the opening reception, but of course declined. This show was extremely popular with museum visitors. The library, usually a quiet spot in the MIA was a constant buzz of excitement. In addition to the books and artwork on display, many Gorey books were available in the gallery for visitors to read. Peals of laughter and squeals of delight often filled the room.


Anonymous said...

Love your blog. Thank you for valuable information. I have a question about poster "The Chinese Obelisk", 1979. Do you know anything about it?

ampootozote said...

There have been several posters showing entire books laid out in a grid: The Gashlycrumb Tinies, The Chinese Obelisk and The Awdrey Gore Legacy are the three I can think of off the top of my head. Only the Tinies remains very popular, and so it stays in print. This year (2011) the Edward Gorey House is producing a limited edition print showing the entire Eclectic Abecedarium.