Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Gorey Stories Original Artwork

The Broadway production of Gorey Stories opened and closed on October 30, 1978 after playing only 15 preview performances. When a show never gets off the ground, there is usually very little interest in saving the material used to create the production. Fortunately, Edward Gorey tended to save everything.

In January, Swann Auction Galleries sold a piece of original artwork used in the creation of the Playbill program cover for the production. Apart from being a rare survivor from the ill fated show, the piece of art is of interest because it is a record showing how much Edward  Gorey orchestrated every detail of the final printed piece.

While working for Anchor Books in the 1950's, Edward Gorey was involved in every aspect of the process of creating books, posters and printed materials. Because of this training, Mr. Gorey became well versed in the quirks and intricacies of the printing process and began his habit of creating artwork at the size it was to be printed, a step that eliminated much guesswork from the process.

On the piece of original artwork sold at Swann, two Shar Pei dogs with butterfly wings are holding a title banner for the production which is fluttering behind a "photograph" of the cast. Mr. Gorey created a separate piece of artwork showing the cast (a photostat of this piece of art was included with the lot) which he had already created for the poster. The tissue overlay on the Playbill cover artwork gives highly detailed directions, indicating which lines are to be printed and which are guides for a fill color. A Pantone color swatch is also attached to the overlay. He even puts a note to say that he is to be contacted directly if the printer is unclear on the directions.

The overlay instructions show the thought process for the cover as well as Edward Gorey's ability to visualize the finished piece through the combination of several pieces of art, all of which are joined together in the printing process within the framework of the standard Playbill cover. Today, of course, this is type of work is done on computers, but in 1978 the process was a more hands-on, leap of faith endeavor.

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