Sunday, July 28, 2019

Edward Gorey, Movie Reviewer

Edward Gorey went to movies. A lot of movies. All kinds of movies. He both loved to watch and playfully disparage films and the people who made them. In what can only be called a stroke of genius, someone at the Soho Weekly News gave Mr. Gorey an official platform to write about the movies he was going to see. He penned a number of movie reviews in 1974 for the publication under the anagrammatic nom de plume Wardore Edgy.

Mr. Gorey threw himself into the task with gleeful abandon. He even created an illustration for the column wherein the "critic" is lounging in a movie theater watching a thriller, his sneaker clad feet extending into the next row and his oversized fur coat casually tossed over a nearby seat.

The reviews read like a one sided phone conversation at two in the morning with an over caffeinated dandy. Most reviewers temper criticism with praise. Mr. Edgy has no such scruples and goes for the throat nine out of ten times. The reviews are chatty, catty, and occasionally non linear in thought, so eager is Mr. Edgy to move on to his next victim. The results are hilarious, and could change the way you look at some revered filmmakers and movie stars. The reviews are also written with the affection of someone who truly loves movies and can't wait to finish typing so he can head out to a theater.

The scan of this review was sent to me by a fellow collector from New York. Copies of the Soho Weekly News can be difficult to locate as it was a small localized New York City publication. The first issue was published October 11, 1973 and the final issue was dated March 10 - 16, 1982.

The last paragraph of this review, which was published March 14, 1974, reads, "Since it first came out, I have thought Mel Brooks' The Producers was the most offensive movie I ever saw; I've now seen Mel Brooks' Blazing Saddles and I no longer think this."

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Early Gorey Artwork Found

Twenty six drawings are put in a box and forgotten, only to be found decades later. 

What sounds like the beginning of a tale by Edward Gorey is actually the history of a collection of early works by the artist. In an added Goreyesque twist to the take, the art was found by a dealer who was pursuing works by another artist. To read the full article that appeared in the Lincoln Journal Star, go HERE.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

The Shrinking of Treehorn, The Movie

The Shrinking of Treehorn, the Edward Gorey illustrated 1971 book by Florence Parry Heide is under construction to appear as a feature length film by Imagine Entertainment. Director Ron Howard slated to take on the project. For more information go HERE.

Monday, June 17, 2019

TV Guide Soap Opera Artwork

The Illustration Art auction that took place last week Swann Auction Galleries had a wonderful selection of works by Edward Gorey. Lot #138 was a delightful full color painting that appered in the May 10, 1986 issue of TV Guide. From 1977 through 1993, Mr. Gorey created numerous pieces for the weekly television guide, almost all of them in color. As a general rule, Edward Gorey preferred to create drawings at the size they would be printed. Due to the small format of the magazine, all of the TV guide pieces were drawn/painted larger and were reduced in size to fit the page.

For his TV Guide pieces, Edward Gorey let his playful sense of humor come to the forefront. Mr. Gorey was an avid television viewer who thoroughly enjoyed sitcoms and soap operas. For this piece, the entranced viewer has the wide eyed blank stare of a person who has spent many hours following too much trauma/drama on the television set. The speech bubble is a parody of dialog and the acting abilities of the soap's actors. The wording has been pasted onto the surface of the artwork, indicating that Mr. Gorey's changed the text after completing the artwork. It would be interesting to compare the original wording with the final text.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Auction News

Swann Auction Galleries held their semi-annual Illustration Art Auction on Tuesday June 4, 2019 (to view the complete catalog, go to Over 200 lots ranging in subject matter from book & magazine illustration, advertising, and theatrical set & costume designs, guaranteed that this auction had something for everyone. Eight original illustrations by Edward Gorey were spaced throughout the sale. All the art by Mr. Gorey sold, with only one piece selling below the pre-auction estimate, and many going higher.

The eight pieces represented a microcosm of the Edward Gorey's career. Three early pieces included a Pin-Up drawing created as a teenager, a naturalistic rabbit drawing made in the early 1950's, and an unusual "pre-Earbrass"color piece showing two Russian gentlemen enjoying an Easter Tea. The characters in this piece are a transition from the figures decorating Mr. Gorey's wartime letters to friends and family to his fully realized protagonist Mr. Earbrass, from his first published book The Unstrung Harp.

Another departure from Edward Gorey's signature crosshatch style was a mid-60's watercolor illustration from The Recently Deflowered Girl, a piece that at first glance looks like a Charles Addams cartoon.

The 1980's had several nice examples, including a color piece created for TV Guide and an amusing Scottish Golfer who is checking his rule book regarding how to deal with a beastie residing in the hole on the green...does he get the putt or not?
The undisputed stars of the Gorey selections were two pieces created for The New Yorker Magazine and intended for use as cover art. Edward Gorey submitted three cover designs to the magazine in 1992, but only one Christmas-themed piece was used at the time. The other two designs languished in the files, unseen until after the artist's death in 2000. The first, Flappers and Topiary was published in the magazine as a full page tribute to Mr. Gorey just after his passing. This whimsical piece has a muted color pallet and delightful imagery.
Cat Fancy is a masterpiece of subdued color and intricate detail that reflects the time in which it was created. Layers upon layers of fabric, pillows, dust ruffles and duvets adorn an overstuffed bed whose inhabitants are a pair of reclining cats. This wonderful image finally adorned the cover of the magazine in December 2018.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Balkan Sobraine Cigarettes

Introduced in The Curse of the Blue Figurine, Professor Roderick Childermass, the irascible elderly neighbor and unlikely friend of young Johnny Dixon was one of John Bellairs' more colorful protagonists. The Professor threw fits, yelled, cursed, and was generally bad tempered, but beneath the crusty surface was a kindly man who felt his fits of temper deeply and apologized to his friends often. The Professor was also an accomplished baker, and anyone who reads Mr. Bellairs' Johnny Dixon books will soon be heading to the kitchen or the nearest bakery for some chocolate cake with thick fudgy icing.

Professor Childermass was also something of a chain smoker, especially in the earlier books in the series. As the series progresses, the Professor works hard to break the habit. What was the Professor's cigarette of choice? The tiny, black papered Balkan Sobranie Turkish Cigarette. This also appears to be the preferred cigarette of Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot. A fun collectible to display near your book collection is the illustrated vintage tin box that once housed the tiny cigarettes. These tins can be found in antiques shops and in on-line auctions.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Goreyosity Shop Auction

"What are you going to do with all your stuff when you die?"

When you reach a certain age, or have accumulated a certain amount of possessions, this question will come up in conversation with increasing frequency. Often, as people "downsize" their living space they will disperse the bulk of their belongings before they pass. Many people leave behind the accumulated detritus of a lifetime that family and friends must deal with.

When Edward Gorey passed in 2000, he left behind a house and barn full to the rafters with objects collected over a lifetime of shopping, tag sales, and literally picking things up and bringing them home. Mr. Gorey had an obsession with objects. The pieces he collected and lived with inspired his works and often appeared in his drawings. After his passing, some of these possessions were bequeathed to family, friends, and institutions, but there was still a house and barn full of things that had to be dealt with.

When Edward Gorey's home was turned into a permanent museum celebrating his life and works, the barn became the repository of objects that needed to be cleared and sorted as the rooms of his home were turned into exhibition spaces. Many of the pieces he collected are on display in the museum, but there was still a large stash of pieces brought home by Mr. Gorey that were languishing in storage. Time to bring in the artists!

26 artists were each given a box and escorted into the barn to pick and choose objects that they would then take back to their respective studios and transform into works of art that will be exhibited at the Cape Cod Cultural Center, and then sold to benefit The Edward Gorey House.

To learn more about the event, go HERE. To read an article about the upcoming exhibition and sale, go HERE.

The piece shown at the top of the post is titled "Dancing in the Dark" by artist Ric Haynes.