Sunday, April 11, 2021

Fine Art Prints - Part 17

Here at Goreyana, we have been discussing Edward Gorey's career as a fine art printmaker over the course of many years. Two previously unrecorded etchings by Mr. Gorey were sold recently at an auction of material from the inventory of The Gotham Book Mart which closed in 2007. Both of these etchings are unsigned and it is presumed these test prints are one of a kind examples with no other copies known. See my posts for Fine Art Prints - Part 15 and Part 16 for other one of a kind test prints.

The first etching shows three circus tumblers contorting in midair. This is a joyful image with a sense of whimsy about it. One of the interesting things to note is that, because the print is unsigned, there is no way to know precisely which direction Edward Gorey intended it to be oriented. The print was framed by The Gotham Book Mart as shown above, but any side could be up and the print would still look correct.
The second print sold at the auction is quite unique. It is the only known etching in Mr. Gorey's thumb series that is presented in color (he created three colored elephant prints, but they are single color prints). It is also the only print he made using multiple images collected on one page to create a window effect. The paper for this print is 15" x 22", making it the largest etching created by Mr. Gorey

As can be seen by the indentations on the reverse of the paper, the image was created using six individual printing plates. Each image is printed in three colors - three of the images are fairly obvious while the other three have the third color subtly applied. This would require infinite patience and meticulous planning. 
Each of the six plates would be prepared for printing, then the ink would be applied by hand with a roller. All six plates would then be aligned on the table of the press. The paper would be positioned, and the print would go through the press. The paper would be removed so the ink could dry, the ink cleaned off each of the six plates, and Mr. Gorey would alter the drawing on the surface of each plate. The process would start again, re-etching the plates, inking the colors, aligning the plates and paper and running it through the press. The process would start all over again for the third color. The edges of each image are slightly "soft" because no matter how careful he would have been, the plates would never perfectly align from one color to the next. This gives an appropriately atmospheric quality to these images.
To create this type of print, Mr. Gorey would start with the lightest and brightest color in each image. Each time he reprocessed the plate, he would have to add a resist to the areas that he wanted to stay bright and clean so the new color of ink would not "take". He would also draw new details onto the plate for each successive color. Unless Mr. Gorey printed more than one copy of this image, the finished print as shown will be the only example that will ever be possible to create from the plates, because the plates were permanently modified as the print progressed.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

465 Buttons



Are you longing for 465 Edward Gorey designed pin back buttons (109 English Soup buttons shown above)? How about 203 Gorey rubber stamps (some used), or for the true fanatic - 1645 I Saw Dracula T-Shirts in several sizes.

Collectors are prone to hoarding items that we love both as individual objects and occasionally single items in quantity. Both of these collecting interests will be well satisfied at The Great Gotham Gorey Collection auction at Ashcroft and Moore Auction Gallery on April 1. The Gotham Book Mart closed in 2007 and the items in this auction were store inventory that was packed away at that time. There are many unusual promotional posters and (literally) piles of books. To view the items, visit their website or view pieces on Live Auctioneers.

Thursday, March 4, 2021

2021 Edward Gorey House Exhibition


The Edward Gorey House has announced Hapless Children as the theme for this years exhibition which opens April 8 and runs through the end of 2021. Children in peril was a major theme in Edward Gorey's works. Youngsters in his books, illustrations, and prints often found themselves in situations that would defeat most adults, yet his children remain stoic in the face of adversity hoping to live until their next birthday.

For more information and to plan your visit to The Edward Gorey house, visit their webiste HERE


Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Murderesses Television Series

It has been announced that AMC is working on a live action series based on Edward Gorey's Neglected Murderesses postcard set. The announcement in Variety appears HERE.

First appearing in Murderess Ink (Workman Publishing, New York, 1979), Neglected Murderesses is a collection of twelve ruthless women - are all killers who disposed of their victims in novel ways. Each enterprising femme fatale is represented as a single image postcard image with a brief, amusing history. One of Mr. Gorey's most reprinted sets, these cards have appeared in no less than 6 publications.

Friday, February 12, 2021

Happy Valentine's Day


 A St. Valentine's Day advertisement for The Hapless Child by Edward Gorey, 1961.

Monday, February 1, 2021

Fan Mail

Like most authors, Edward Gorey received fan mail of all sorts. In the pre-social media days of the 1980's and 90's requests for autographs and written responses to questions arrived through the mail with increasing frequency. His address and phone number were listed in the phone book and with very little effort a fan could track down his address. 

Feeling some sort of responsibility to reply and yet not be overwhelmed by correspondence from fans, Mr. Gorey created a response post card that he hand signed in advance and could address and send as needed. The card has a beautifully detailed illustration showing a cat atop an urn overflowing with unread letters. The cat is telling the recipient that, "You've written me to no avail, Because I never read my mail." 

As part of the Edward Gorey Documentary Project, Mr. Gorey was interviewed on the subject of fan mail. The audio from this interview was animated by Ben Wickey for the documentary. Additional animated interviews from this series can be found on YouTube.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Mr. Earbrass Plays Croquet


I have the good fortune to be married to a man who loves to make special gifts for special occasions. For our 41st anniversary this past November, I received a hand made Mr. Earbrass figure. Recreating a scene from The Unstrung Harp, Edward Gorey's first published work, the intrepid Mr. Earbrass is braving the elements to complete a forgotten game of croquet. The collaged figure is amazingly detailed and everything from his head, hands and feet to his croquet mallet are hand made to scale. In the book, Mr. Earbrass is wearing a fur coat during his attempt to finish his game, but Bill decided to swap out his clothing for his traveling costume shown later in the book. Using bits of fabric with appropriately sized patterns, Mr. Earbrass is stylishly attired to brave the elements.

Bill has always enjoyed creating vintage style toys, and Mr. Earbrass is not just a figurine, he is also a Räuchermännchen, or incense smoker toy. Räuchermännchen were first made around 1850 in the Ore Mountains, a region that forms the border between Germany and the Czech Republic. They usually feature pipe smoking figures in traditional costume and remain popular holiday decorations.

Lifting off the top half of Mr. Earbrass, a metal tray is positioned to accept an incense cone. When lit and the top half of his body replaced, smoke gently emanates from Mr. Earbrass' mouth so that you can see his breath as if he were outside breathing in the chilly air. Here is a video of Mr. Earbrass out in the cold, playing croquet.