On December 17th, Sotheby's will be offering the original artwork from Theoda, a complete 'A Collection" book by Edward Gorey. This is a unique opportunity since primary works by Mr. Gorey form the backbone of his archives and are not generally sold. Original artwork from only two other 'A Collection' books, The Broken Spoke and Leaves From A Mislaid Album have ever been sold. Theoda was created in 1966 when it appeared in Status Magazine. The story eventually appeared in Amphigorey Also in 1983, under the new title The Tuning Fork. A signed/numbered limited edition book of this title was published in 1990 by The Fantod Press (https://goreyana.blogspot.com/2010/07/tuning-fork.html)
Originally slated to be auctioned by Sotheby's on December 13, 2011, this suite of 14 drawings (plus two additional pages) was pulled at the last minute and has only recently been cleared for sale - see my postings from November 30, 2011, December 7 & 15, 2011 for information on the previous sale.
The Sotheby's listing for this lot can be a bit difficult to locate, but can be found by going to http://www.sothebys.com/pdf/2018/N09954/index.html and going to lot 166. It seems to only appear online when looking at the actual Print Catalog for the Fine Books and Manuscripts Online.
NOTE: This item appears to have been withdrawn (once again) prior to the auction date.
As the Fall Auction Season begins to wrap things up, Swann Auction Galleries in New York City held its semi-annual Illustration Auction featuring over 284 lots of original artwork. Included in the sale were four delightful pieces by Edward Gorey.
The first piece offered was a whimsical color piece showing two pigs eating truffles and drinking champagne under a sunny yellow umbrella in the company of a dapper gentleman. None of the participants are in the least bothered that they are reposing in squishy mud. This delightful piece realized a very respectable price as the hammer fell.
The next two pieces were originally created for The Dream World of Dion McGregor. This unusual book chronicles, as the title suggests, the dreams of the author who not only has some fantastic nocturnal happenings in his head, but also narrated the dreams aloud as he slept. The dreams were recorded, transcribed, and masterfully illustrated by Edward Gorey. The first piece, TYN (The Thumb Your Nose club) failed to sell. The second piece titled Peony (see the photo at the top of this post) inspired spirited bidding and topped its high estimate. This microcosm of a drawing - it is only 1.5" x 2.5" - is a miniature Gorey masterpiece. Simply executed, the expressions and attitudes of the three children speak volumes.
The final piece, Common Good Wrestles Bitter Grudge and Purple Rage, is an unusual Gorey illustration from Alvin Steadfast and Vernacular Island from 1965. The final sale price fell precisely in the center of its estimate.
The Spring and early Winter illustration auctions at Swann offer fantastic opportunities to acquire one of a kind works by major and less well known illustrators. The selection of works by Edward Gorey at the sales remains exemplary.
It is with sadness that we mark the passing of multi-talented director, producer, playwright, artist, designer, and educator John Wulp who died on Tuesday November 27 at the age of 90. As a producer, Mr Wulp was the driving force behind the Edward Gorey designed 1973 Nantucket and 1977 Broadway productions of Dracula. Mr. Wulp was awarded a Tony Award for the Broadway production.
In life, Edward Gorey rarely traveled far from his home and only ventured abroad once. Elegant Enigmas, the definitive Edward Gorey retrospective exhibition, has traveled extensively across the United States since 2009. For the past year or so the show has been exhibited in various cities across Japan. The show's Japanese tour will make its ninth stop at the Niitsu Art Museum in Tokyo beginning January 19, 2019.
Elegant Enigmas features original art, books, and ephemera culled from the Edward Gorey Archives. The materials on display will often vary slightly for each venue. At each stop, the personal collection from a regional collector is often featured alongside the Estate materials. A catalog of the core exhibition was published in 2009 (see my post goreyana.blogspot.com/2009/02/reference-materials-part-1.html).
For the Japanese exhibitions, a new catalog has been produced. This oversized glossy paperback shows snippets from the core collection, but the main focus is on the supplemental materials from several collectors (from the layout, I assume it is from several collectors - I don't read Japanese). The pieces shown include original artwork lent from private collections as well as many items not pictured in the American volume. There are interviews and profiles of several collectors as well as a new interview with Andreas Brown, trustee of The Edward Gorey Charitable Trust and former owner of Gotham Book Mart. Unfortunately for those of us that are not multilingual, all of the information in the catalog is written in Japanese.
This slight hiccup should not deter the serious collector from obtaining a copy of this catalog. The format, photography, and layout of the catalog is visually stunning and is sure to influence the look of future exhibition catalogs whose layout often resembles a checklist. The best way to obtain one of these catalogs is through eBay listings from Japan.
If you have sent me a comment or question and it failed to appear on the blog in a reasonable time frame, I apologize for the delay. I was not receiving notifications that comments were awaiting moderation. I went through the list, cleaned things up, and applied comments to blog entries last night. Again, sorry for the delays...I really appreciate all comments and questions.
Born To Be Posthumous, The Eccentric Life and Mysterious Genius of Edward Gorey by Mark Dery is the long anticipated biography of author/artist Edward Gorey. Researched and written over a seven year period, author Dery explores every aspect of Mr. Gorey's life, career, and exceptional talent.
When asked in interviews about his life, Edward Gorey was quick to point out that his was a boring existence. The life of a successful visual artist or writer usually is, and Mr. Gorey worked tirelessly in both mediums. Countless hours were spent alone with his cats (is one ever really alone when one lives with cats?) employing his creative talents to produce hundreds of pieces of writing and thousands of drawings. In addition to the time spent working, Mr. Gorey also spent hundreds of hours reading thousands of books. And yet, the overall portrait that emerges is not of a solitary man or recluse, a tag often pinned on him.
Through this volume we come to realize that Edward Gorey was an extremely organized individual who enjoyed the company and mental stimulation of others, but had very little time for intimate socializing. The result is that the people who interacted with him felt that they didn't really know him, or more accurately knew only one part of him. If he was at the ballet, he talked ballet...if he was involved in a theatrical project, he concentrated on the project...with his agent or publisher, he talked about the book project or illustration assignment. Amongst his family and friends he was regarded as a highly entertaining companion who had a wicked opinion on every subject and could skewer anyone and anything with a few well chosen, and often flamboyantly expressed, words.
This biography brings Edward Gorey to life in a highly readable, entertaining volume. Author Mark Dery seems to have reached out to, and asked pointed questions of, virtually every person who crossed paths personally and professionally with Mr. Gorey. Mr. Dery's exhaustive research also included hundreds of articles about, and interviews with the artist. The resulting work paints a thorough portrait of Edward Gorey as a unique individual who was possessed of an astounding talent and the drive and self motivation to produce works that continue to amuse and inspire his legion of fans.
Born To be Posthumous, The Eccentric Life and Mysterious Genius of Edward Gorey by Mark Dery will be published on November 6, 2018 by Little, Brown and Company.
When you are creating an episode of The Simpsons and you need a minute and a half of filler (or that is just your excuse, and you are sticking to it), who do you turn to? Edward Gorey, of course! From the cross hatching to the Vincent Price-esque narration, this is a delightfully ghoulish homage to Edward Gorey's short books.
Thanks to Mark Dery's upcoming Edward Gorey biography for bringing this short film my attention.
Ten years ago, on October 5, 2008, I began this collecting blog with the following statement:
Welcome to my Edward Gorey blog. In this blog, I will share pieces from
my Edward Gorey collection which includes books, ephemera and original
artwork. I welcome comments, questions and enthusiastic observers! I
plan to keep things informal and hope that anyone who visits my blog
might learn something they didn’t know about Edward Gorey and his work.
I really appreciate all the interesting people I have communicated with and gotten to know over the past ten years through this blog. I look forward to sharing more stories, interesting facts, and the wonderful artwork of Edward Gorey in the coming months and years!
The 1973 book The House With A Clock In Its Walls by John Bellairs was illustrated by Edward Gorey. For the new movie based on the book, director Eli Roth studied these illustrations along with the collected works of Edward Gorey to give the movie a Gorey-inspired look. Mr. Roth is a long time fan and collector of the works of Edward Gorey. For an in-depth New York Post interview in which Mr. Roth discusses his Gorey inspirations for the settings, creatures, and even the actor's mannerisms, go HERE.
Since it inception in 1953, this was the (often true) explanation for picking up a copy of Playboy Magazine. Over the years, the enticing mix of titillation, culture, and intellectual writing kept the population entertained and informed. The magazine also provided an influential outlet for artists and illustrators to earn their living. From 1963 to 1988, Mr. Gorey illustrated a number of stories in Playboy. What is Life? a work of fiction by Robert Sheckely appeared in the December 1979 issue.
While out for a ramble in the foothills of the Himalayan mountains, a man named Mortonson is asked the intriguing question by a disembodied voice. Edward Gorey's humorous illustration shows the protagonist pondering the meaning of it all.
As a humorous aside, Mr. Sheckley's 1968 novel Dimension of Miracles has been cited as an inspiration for Douglas Adams' 1978 novel The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Adams claimed in interviews to have not read Dimensions until after Hitchhiker's was published, even though the books are described as "disturbingly similar". In Hitchhiker's, the answer to the question Mortonson is contemplating in What is Life? is 42.
Devilish Teacher by Edward Gorey. This unpublished drawing was included in the 1996 exhibition Gorey World at the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco and graces the cover of the catalog from the exhibition. The catalog was produced in a limited edition of 500 numbered and 26 lettered copies, each signed by Edward Gorey.
Arts Brookfield in Houston Texas will be hosting Dracula!, an exhibition featuring production materials, artwork, sets pieces and costumes from the Alley Theater's 2014 production of Edward Gorey's Dracula. The exhibition will run from September 13 through November 9. For more information about the exhibition, go HERE.
Actor Mark Baker, who was nominated for a Tony Award for his 1973 title role in director Hal Prince's Candide has passed. Mr. Baker was also well received in the international tour of Grand Hotel in which he played the role of Otto Kringelein.
Fans of Edward Gorey's theatrical endeavors fondly remember Mr. Baker as one of the talented company of players in Amphigorey, A Musicale. The 1994 Off Broadway production ran at the Perry Street Theater in New York City. Mr. Baker was 71.
Gorey's Worlds, the exhibition mounted by The Wadsworth Atheneum earlier this year, will be on display at the David Owsley Mueum of Art in Muncie, Indiana from September 28 through December 23 (museum exhibition information HERE).
This stellar exhibition features original artwork, prints, and photographs collected by Edward Gorey during his lifetime which he bequeathed to the Wadsworth. These pieces, which decorated Mr. Gorey's home, informed and inspired his own artwork. Also included in the exhibition are rare original pieces of Mr. Gorey's own work.
*** Color dust wrapper design by Edward Gorey for Haunted America (collection Wadsworth Atheneum, gift of Edward Gorey)
*** Photograph by Eugene Atget (collection Wadsworth Atheneum, gift of Edward Gorey)
It is time once again for the Edward Gorey House Envelope Art Contest. Anyone can enter for the cost of a stamp and an envelope! All ages are encouraged to get creative and send in a decorated envelope! Full contest details are here: http://www.edwardgoreyhouse.org/events
Long hot summer days often lead to inactivity and contemplation. This unpublished piece of original artwork by Edward Gorey exemplifies slowing down the hectic pace of life. A forgotten urn resides on a gently sloping, unkempt landscape with wispy clouds gently floating past. The only witness to this tranquil day is a wide eyed frog positioned atop the urn.
This beautifully rendered pen & ink drawing was originally intended for a book by Edward Gorey but either the book or the drawing were abandoned along the way. Mr. Gorey later presented this drawing to a personal friend. On artwork created for Mr. Gorey's "A" collection books, there will be a hand written date on the reverse side indicating when it was drawn. If a drawing was completed over several days, there is a start date and a finish date. When completed in a single day, there is only one date indicated. This drawing was created on October 1, 1984. Searching Mr. Gorey's published works near (and after) this date, I have not been able to determine what future book it might have been intended for. One possibility would be The Improvable Landscape (1986).
In this drawing, Edward Gorey's talent and skillful manipulation of line is supremely evident. The presence of the contemplative frog atop the urn adds an endearing touch to the work.
This two page spread entitled Old-Time Summer Treat is from the July 1964 issue of Friends magazine. Chevrolet produced Friends magazine from 1960 until the mid/late 60's as
an auto showroom giveaway extolling the virtues of owning your own car
so you could
travel and see the "real" America. Edward Gorey produced numerous
illustrations to accompany articles in the magazine.
Long hot summer days are made to be enjoyed with ice cream. Even in 1964, home made ice cream appears to be a nostalgic treat from the past. The article sings its praises as a tasty family bonding activity, when in fact making ice cream at home required specialized tools, high quality ingredients, a good recipe, time and a certain amount of skill. Perhaps it would have been more appropriate for the auto maker to suggest an outing in the family car to a drive in for ice cream on a hot summer day!
Friends' Art director Robert Weeks was an avid fan and collector of Mr. Gorey's works and commissioned spot illustrations for the magazine, acquiring many of the originals once they were used. In 1993 Mr. Weeks collection of books and artwork was sold through Gotham Book Mart, and the artwork for Old-Time Summer Treat was included in the pieces being offered.
I am showing a scan of the fax that Gotham Book Mart sent me when the artwork was being offered. Due to the size of the magazine, this artwork was drawn on two panels. I was not able to purchase this piece, but did acquire one of the other Friends pieces offered at that time.
Old-Time Summer Treat features delightful vignettes of children and animals at play, enjoying ice cream on a summer day with the sun smiling upon them from above. Mr. Gorey uses a playful drawing style full of movement and gentle humor for this piece. One of my favorite parts of the drawing is the small dog who is enjoying a large bowl of ice cream that presumably was left unattended by the children flying a kite.
How many pen strokes did Edward Gorey make to create a single drawing? The answer, of course, will vary depending on the drawing, but the concept is intriguing.
In my previous post, I discussed the Dracula set designs and pointed out that a team of scenic artists had to translate Mr. Gorey's scaled drawings into full sized set pieces. The concept of recreating the heavily crosshatched drawings must have been a sobering assignment...which begs the question, "How many pen strokes needed to be recreated?"
For the Vault drawing shown above, I counted 270 individual stones that had to be drawn. Enlarging the image, I selected numerous stones of varying sizes and shapes and set about counting the pen strokes. My calculations determined that the stones averaged about 75 pen strokes per stone. It should be noted that on the original artwork, a large stone is about 7/16" wide by 3/8" tall and some are much smaller.
This roughly translates to 20,250 pen strokes for the stone wall alone, not including the pile of skulls or the two bodies. It also does not take into account the added pen strokes made to outline the stones and to darken the outer edge of the set piece, so it can be assumed that Edward Gorey created at least 25,000 pen strokes to make this one drawing. This drawing represents only one section of the set for Act 3 making well over a million hash marks for this sets for all three acts combined.
Edward Gorey's long association with the vampire legend of Dracula began when he first read the novel by Bram Stoker as a young child. By the mid 1970's, Dracula and Edward Gorey would become forever linked to one another.
The 1970's were an incredibly prolific time for Edward Gorey. During this decade (Gorey turned 45 in 1970) he published 33 of his own works, created book covers and illustrations for works by other authors, did spot illustrations and advertisements for magazines & periodicals, created original artwork for two Fine Art exhibitions at Graham Gallery, and designed the theatrical sets and costumes, including two seminal productions of Dracula.
In the early 70's, Edward Gorey was approached to design sets and costumes for a production of Dracula that was mounted at a theater in Nantucket in 1973. The success of this production, due to Mr. Gorey's unique contributions, lead to a 1977 Broadway revival of the play, which was billed as The Edward Gorey Production of Dracula. To seal the lid on the vampire's coffin, Mr. Gorey also designed a Dracula Toy Theater in 1979 (see above photo). Two editions of the Bram Stoker novel, one produced by Barnes & Noble in 1996 and an unfinished version also have illustrations by Mr. Gorey.
For each of these ventures, Edward Gorey completely reworked and redrew all the settings and characters depicted in the story. For the Nantucket production, Mr. Gorey came up with stone wall inset with bat topped arches into which panels would be inserted to change the settings for each act of the play (see above drawing). While he never abandoned this basic format, each incarnation changed and became more layered and elaborate. The bats multiplied, and the bodies continued to pile up in subsequent interpretations.
Many of the original set drawings from both productions of Dracula are in private collections and have been included in museum exhibitions of Edward Gorey's works. These highly detailed works of art are beautifully executed and often have descriptive production notes written in the outer margins because they are the working drawings from which the scene shops created the sets.
A recent acquisition is a Dracula set drawing from Act 3 of the Broadway production. This insert panel appears on the right side of the stage in The Vault (or Crypt) and shows a catacombs style final resting place of two of Dracula's victims with a pile of discarded human skulls on the floor. A similar burial wall appears on the left side of the stage.
It should be noted that all the sets for Dracula were hand painted by talented scene shop artists. Every cross hatched line on the walls, furniture, and floor had to be recreated to size by hand...a task almost as astounding as Edward Gorey's fanatical crosshatched drawings themselves. The final photo shows actor Raul Julia in costume on the Broadway set (Mr. Julia succeeded Frank Langella in the title role).
Dracula Broadway set photos from the New York Public Library Digital Collections.
The June 5 Illustration Art Auction at Swann Auction Galleries in New York City featured a nice selection of original published artwork, preliminary sketches, and working notebook sketches by Edward Gorey. The eight lots represented Mr. Gorey's work from the 1950's through 1998. Sale prices for all but one item fell within or below the pre-sale estimates, and two color sketches for book covers from the 1950's failed to sell.
Fans of the supernatural mystery book series begun by author John Bellairs and later continued by Brad Stickland had the rare opportunity to acquire a piece of artwork from The Specter from the Magician's Museum. This beautifully executed pen and ink drawing was one of the deals of the day, selling below its pre-sale estimate.
The Broadway production of Dracula was represented by three rare sketchbook pages (sold as a single lot) containing set and costume notes and sketches.
The star piece by Edward Gorey was a large pen, ink & watercolor cover design for the May 19, 1975 issue of Publisher's Weekly Magazine. This piece (shown at the top of this post) sold for almost twice its estimate.
Building a collection of original illustration artwork is a rewarding experience that at times can also be vexing. Because the printed piece was considered the finished product, vintage illustration artwork has often been stored and treated with less than careful handling. This can result in a variety of imperfections appearing on the piece.
The most common problems with vintage illustration artwork are A) non-archival glues used to affix paste-up changes to the works B) toning and discoloration to the work because of exposure to sunlight, and C) the appearance of mold and mildew on the surface. For the serious collector, condition is an important consideration on any acquisition, and a good paper restorer can work wonders on a piece of artwork that is in need of some TLC.
The Worsted Monster had two main issues - the paste-up title change was coming off because the old glue had dried out, and there were multiple spots of mold on the surface of the artwork. After carefully removing the paste-up and neutralizing the paper, the title was repositioned using archival materials. Fortunately, the glue did not seep through and discolor the paste-up.
The more difficult restoration on this piece was the removal of mold spots that dotted the surface. The restorer spent over two hours painstakingly removing each spot of mold individually. Once all the spots were removed, the entire work was neutralized. The piece is now mold free and newly framed.
This is a spot where I post photos and personal observations on pieces from my Edward Gorey collection. I welcome all discussions, questions, comments and corrections to the information posted. email@example.com All content and images are copyright 2008 - 2020 Irwin Terry