Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Edward Gorey Cat Catalog

In 1976 Workman Publishing published,  Cat Catalog, The Ultimate Cat Book, edited by Judy Fireman. This large book (it measures 9" x 11.5", hardcover with dust jacket) is a compendium of all things Cat. Not surprisingly, after the popularity of Amphigorey in 1972 and Categor y in 1974, Edward Gorey was asked to contribute a piece about cats for the publication.

Mr. Gorey created a two page diptych that appears at the very front of the volume. Each page contains a dozen vignettes of cats "in a variety of unlikely pursuits". The plotting and planning of these two panels is beautifully organized and executed. Each vignette is surrounded by a border in which the hand lettered title winds its way around the image. There are arrows in the border corners guiding the reader, and the piece as a whole has a maze like feel where the viewer feels satisfaction for figuring out the path to enlightenment.

This untitled diptych was published in 1979 by Workman Publishing as half of Dancing Cats & Neglected Murderesses (see my post from November 8, 2009). Unfortunately, the charm of the original work was greatly reduced in the new publication. Each panel is shown without borders on its own page, and the titles are captioned in a standard font on facing pages. The 1979 printing appears to not have had Edward Gorey's direct involvement in the layout or execution, and it suffers greatly when compared to this presentation.

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