Thursday, August 16, 2018

Mark Baker


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.


Saturday, August 4, 2018

Gorey's Worlds ... Again!



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)


Monday, July 30, 2018

Edward Gorey House Envelope Contest


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


Sunday, July 22, 2018

A Frog On An Urn


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 This unpublished piece of original artwork by Edward Gorey exemplifies slowing down the hectic pace of life.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.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Summertime Friends


 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.







Monday, June 25, 2018

Crosshatching As A Way Of Life


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.


Sunday, June 17, 2018

Dracula Set Design Original Artwork


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.





Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Auction News


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.


Monday, May 14, 2018

Preservation


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.









Saturday, May 5, 2018

Gorey's Worlds...Last Chance Weekend



Gorey's Worlds, the exhibition at the Wadsworth Atheneum closes on Sunday May 6. Here is an interesting article about Edward Gorey and the exhibition.

https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2018/05/10/edward-gorey-art-of-elsewhere


Thursday, April 26, 2018

Auction News


The spring auction season is in full swing, and works by Edward Gorey continue to do quite well in the sales.

Heritage Auctions in Dallas, Texas offered The Swimming Pool, an original pen and ink drawing from The Dream World of Dion McGregor, which sold for $4250.00 (hammer price plus buyer's premium). As the title suggests, the subject of this book is the author's dreams, and Edward Gorey's illustrations from this work have appropriately unusual elements.


As part of their April 26th Fine Illustrated Books & Graphics  auction, Swann Auction Galleries offered seven lots of material by Edward Gorey that included original artwork, prints, and ephemera. Three limited edition etchings, each hand signed by Mr. Gorey sold for well above their pre-sale estimates. A very rare, limited edition Doubtful Guest Doll in its original box from 1974 sold for $3750.00.


The most unusual item to be offered at the sale was a hand made Going Away Card created by Edward Gorey for a departing colleague from the time when Mr. Gorey worked at Doubleday and Company. The pen & ink with watercolor card is a one of a kind piece created with obvious affection for the co-worker.





Monday, April 9, 2018

2018 Edward Gorey House Exhibition


The Edward Gorey House opens its annual exhibition on Thursday April 12. Murder He Wrote, Edward Gorey and the Art of the Mystery will be on display at until December 30 of this year.

Each year, the Edward Gorey House puts together a unique display of works by and about Mr. Gorey. These themed exhibitions draw on pieces in the Gorey Archives, and also on loans of rare materials from private collectors. Each exhibition is a unique opportunity to view works inside the home where Mr. Gorey created many of his signature works.  

Edward Gorey was an avid murder mystery reader, and he was especially fond of the works of Agatha Christie, to whom he dedicated his 1971 book, The Awdrey-Gore Legacy. Original artwork from this, and several other published works by Mr. Gorey will be displayed in the exhibition. Crimes, both perpetrated and solved, will be explored and revealed. Previously unpublished artwork by Mr. Gorey will be included in the exhibit, giving visitors the added thrill of seeing artwork for the first time. Plan your visit now!





Monday, April 2, 2018

Visiting the Wadsworth



This is a fun record of artist Deb Lucke's visit to the Gorey's Worlds at the Wadsworth Atheneum as told, and drawn, by the artist herself. It appeared in March 27, 2017 issue of The New Yorker magazine. Visit the page HERE

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Movie Trailer



The trailer for The House With A Clock In Its Walls is out - watch it HERE


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Fine Art Prints, Part 16


Recently, there have been several additional previously unrecorded etchings by Edward Gorey offered for sale (none of the prints shown are in my collection).  The first is another copy of a 1977 Bolster print that was discussed in Fine Art Prints, Part 15 (Nov 1, 2017). The previously shown impression had notations in Mr. Gorey's hand stating that it was overexposed, resulting in an image that was dark with thick linework. This impression rectifies the darkness and the image appears to have come into focus.
The second print shows a couple in agitated conversation near a large urn and a spindle table with a figurine on it. The plate for this print appears to have been underexposed, leaving the details indistinct.
The next image shows a figure holding an extremely long candle against a flowing, theatrical backdrop. The overall darkness of this print works to its advantage, giving the piece a moody, nighttime appearance.

The last image is probably the best realized of the grouping, with a woman offering a treat to a long eared dog that has been stuffed into an urn, while the sun observes the scene from behind a passing cloud.

None of these images were put into production, and plates no longer appear to exist. On viewing these prints as a group, it becomes clear that they represent early trials that were abandoned by Edward Gorey in favor of other images. These pieces were most likely created during the printmaking courses that Mr. Gorey attended at the local community college. It is instructive to see some of the perceived failures, and the group provides insight into Mr. Gorey's hands-on approach to his printmaking endeavors.


Thursday, March 1, 2018

TV Guide Illustration



Over the years, Edward Gorey was commissioned to create many illustrations for TV Guide. His illustrations for the magazine were usually in color, and often added a humorous touch to the articles they accompanied. These ephemeral pieces usually make only one appearance in print, and then are forgotten until someone runs across them years later when leafing through back issues of the magazine. This article, published in the July 12, 1990 issue, discusses the perils of being a TV obituary writer when caught unawares by the sudden death of public figure. Even though the drawing can never really be seen properly because it bridges the spine, it remains a delightful image.


Monday, February 19, 2018

A New Book



The Edward Gorey exhibition Gorey's Worlds at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art is on display February 10 - March 6, 2018. Long after this interesting exhibition closes, the accompanying book Gorey's Worlds (Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, in association with Princeton University Press, 160 pages, 2018) by curator Erin Monroe will be a vital reference for those interested in Mr. Gorey's works.

The lavishly illustrated volume focus on the portion of Edward Gorey's personal art collection which the artist bequeathed to the Wadsworth upon his passing in April 2000.  The gift of 73 paintings, prints, and drawings provides unique insight into the art that excited and inspired Mr. Gorey daily. Supplementing the gifted works are works by Mr. Gorey himself. Visual and contextual comparisons are made in the volume's four essays by various contributors, each of which highlights a different aspect of the exhibition.

Gorey's Worlds can be ordered from the Wadsworth HERE.




Sunday, February 4, 2018

The Worsted Monster



The Worsted Monster is an enigmatic work, or works, by Edward Gorey. Begun in the 1950's and never published (or completed?), the first incarnation of The Worsted Monster is a self proclaimed Medieval Tale that features a cast of male characters and one large dragon, presumably the monster itself. A completely revised tale which shares the same title appeared in the June 1975 issue of National Lampoon Magazine as a toy theater, complete with sets, Dramatis Personae, and a libretto (see my post from August 136, 2013).

Several pieces of artwork from the 1950's version were displayed at The Edward Gorey House in 2016 as part of their Artifacts from the Archives exhibit. This exhibit reunited interior drawings from this book that remain in the Gorey archives with this dust wrapper design that was borrowed from a private collection. The dust wrapper artwork is now in my collection.

An interesting characteristic of this piece of art is that the title was reworked by Edward Gorey and a changed version was pasted over the original title. When I acquired the piece, the seventy year old glue used on the paste-up had dried out and the title was in danger of becoming detached from the surface of the artwork. As part of my conservation of the piece, I gently removed the paste-up which revealed the original title drawing. After documenting the original version, the revised title has been repositioned using archival materials.

Surprisingly, there are only slight variations between the two titles. The original version uses more color and the hand lettered type on the scroll is less formal. The angle of the scroll has also been altered slightly in the new version. This is a clear example of Edward Gorey's attention to balance and detail in his art. The newer, more monochromatic title gives more emphasis to the colorful gentleman and dragon. The cover of the book, as shown in the cropped photo above, has a pleasing composition. Presumably, had this title been published, Mr. Gorey would have also hand lettered the title for the spine of the book and added that to the center of the drawing. It is also worth noting that this would have been a very large book if published life sized to the artwork since the cover would have been 11 1/2" tall.





Friday, January 26, 2018

Gorey Biography



The new biography of Edward Gorey by author Mark Dery has its cover. Watch for this upcoming publication to arrive in Fall 2018.


Friday, January 19, 2018

Gorey Exhibition


Need ta break from your winter dull drums? Refresh yourself with a visit to the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Connecticut and take in their exhibition, Gorey's Worlds. The exhibition, which opens on February 10 and continues through May 6, will showcase artwork that inspired Edward Gorey and informed his personal work.

After Edward Gorey passed away in 2000, the Wadsworth received a legacy from the artist of 73 art pieces that he collected and lived with in his Cape Cod home. The prints, photographs, and drawings range in date from the 19th century to the 1980's. The exhibition will give viewers an extraordinary insight into the artwork that inspired Mr. Gorey and that he viewed daily in his home. This is the first time since their donation that the pieces are being exhibited.

Also included in the exhibition will be original art by Edward Gorey that has been culled from the Gorey Archives and several collectors.

The core exhibition will travel to the Tacoma Art Museum from June 23 - September 30, 2018. A catalog of the exhibition will be forthcoming. For more information on the Wadsworth, the exhibition, and related programming at the museum go HERE.

Artwork shown above: Haunted America by Edward Gorey: watercolor, pen & ink 1990. The Woman and the Bear by Edvard Munch, lithograph 1908-9. Passageway by Eugene Atget, gelatin silver print, N.d..