Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Dripping Faucet

The Dripping Faucet by Edward Gorey was published in 1989 by the Metacom Press, Worchester, MA. Created as a cut apart flip book, this engaging book can be read in many ways. Published as a signed, limited edition of 500 numbered and 26 lettered (A to Z) copies, this would be Edward Gorey's final cut apart book. The limitation colophon is printed inside the back cover (see below right). Because of the interactive nature of the book, it could not be included in the Amphigorey anthologies and will probably not be reprinted.

At 2" x 11" this book is an awkward size, is consequently somewhat fragile and damages easily. Each copy of the book was issued with a blue stiffening card to help prevent the book becoming bent (see photo above). Once the edition sold out at the original publication price, The Dripping Faucet has always commanded a premium. I am showing copy #258/500.

Each of the 26 lettered copies of The Dripping Faucet were hand colored by Edward Gorey. This was the last book by Mr. Gorey to feature hand coloring, and is also the rarest of all his hand colored books. While his other hand colored books and post card sets were issued in sets of at least 50 copies, there are only 26 copies of this title which were water colored. I am showing copy X.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Gorey Gorey Everywhere

If you feel the need of a Gorey fix overcoming you this year, you are in luck! There are no less than THREE exhibitions of Edward Gorey's work to see!

The Edward Gorey House in Yarmouth Port, MA currently has Artful Associations: Edward Gorey and Famous Authors. Not only is this exhibition a one-of-a-kind chance to see many pieces of original art and ephemera, but the museum is actually Edward Gorey's house! The museum is staffed by knowledgeable and friendly people, some whom personally knew Mr. Gorey. View the exhibits, ask questions, and immerse yourself in the ultimate Gorey experience! Be sure and look through your copy of Kevin McDermott's Elephant House: or, The Home of Edward Gorey before hand to see what the house looked like when Mr. Gorey lived in it, or pick up a copy in the gift shop.

The extensive traveling exhibit, Elegant Enigmas: The Art of Edward Gorey will be at the Orlando Museum of Art from August 13 through October 31. This "don't miss" exhibition was culled from Mr. Gorey's vast archives and features original art from his most famous books.

The most exotic location for an Edward Gorey exhibition is the University of Hawaii at Manoa in Honolulu, HI. Musing of Mystery and Alphabets of Agony: The Work of Edward Gorey will be on display from September 19 through December 5 with over 500 Gorey items from the Carollo collection on display. Mr. Carollo donated his extensive collection to the University in 2003. The show will also borrow items from the Gorey estate.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Tragedies Topiares Postcards

Tragedies Topiares, Dogear Wryde Postcards was published in 1989 as a numbered, signed, limited edition set of twelve postcards. Each of the 250 sets had an extra colophon card and were issued in an illustrated envelope. I am showing copy #141/250. These images were included in Amphigorey Again, and have been used for various publications and announcement cards.

The postcards picture topiary plantings which have taken on a life of their own. Each image shows a trimmed hedge or bush interacting and generally menacing a passer-by. One of my favorites is the baby being carried away by the dog topiary.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Beginning To End

Beginning To End marked the second and final collaboration between Samuel Beckett and Edward Gorey. Published in 1988 by Gotham Book Mart in a signed limited edition of 300 numbered and 26 lettered (A to Z) copies, I am showing copy lettered copy I/26. Mr. Gorey's first collaboration with Mr. Beckett was All Strange Away published by Gotham Book Mart as a signed limited edition or 200 numbered and 26 lettered (A to Z) copies in 1976.

Collaboration is always a loosely used term when referencing Edward Gorey-illustrated works. When working with authors, Mr. Gorey would receive the finished text and whatever instructions were to be given to him and then he would produce illustrations as dictated by his inspiration.

Samuel Beckett was born on Good Friday, April 13, 1906 in Dublin, Ireland, and died in 1989 in France at the age of 83. He was a playwright and author whose absurdist/minimalist works greatly appealed to Edward Gorey, making him an ideal illustrator for Mr. Beckett's prose. Beginning to End is illustrated almost exclusively with small drawings of skulls which appear on the cover and throughout the text.

This title was appropriately named since it had an difficult beginning and end - actually, the end never came. For whatever reason, Edward Gorey was not getting the illustrations finished for this volume, and Samuel Beckett was ill. Cajoling calls were made to Mr. Gorey encouraging him to finish things up quickly because of Mr. Beckett's health. Matthew Monaghan told me there were also difficulties with the printing of this book because the original order for the special paper was short and matching paper had to be found.

The book was eventually completed and the colophon page signed before Mr. Beckett died. I am showing the announcement card (above right) for this volume. Mr. Gorey also agreed to do an original drawing for each of the 26 lettered copies of Beginning to End, but unfortunately he set this project aside. In 1996, Gotham Book Mart pre-sold the lettered copies with the promise that the drawings would be completed shortly (see announcement letter to the left). Once again, delays occurred, culminating in Mr. Gorey's death in April 2000 with the drawings still not completed. The lettered copies were sent to the collectors who purchased them, but no drawings ever materialized.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Major Gorey Collection Gets Donated

This article was sent to me by several people, so I thought I would share it with everyone. | May 4th, 2010 (a shorter version of this article also appeared in the New York Times)

Illustrator Edward Gorey’s Works Donated to Columbia

A large and important collection of works by the idiosyncratic illustrator, designer and writer, Edward Gorey (1925-2000), has been donated to Columbia’s Rare Book & Manuscript Library by Andrew Alpern. Numbering more than 700 items, the collection includes nearly every edition of every work published by Gorey, in addition to illustrations for dust jackets and magazines, original drawings, etchings, posters and design ephemera. By any measure, this is a major gathering of Gorey’s work.

Born in Chicago, Edward Gorey attended Harvard after WW II, and then became an illustrator for Doubleday Anchor in New York City. At the same time, he began writing and illustrating his own distinctive works, in a style that evoked a fin-de-siecle atmosphere. Gorey is perhaps best known for the animated opening sequence to the long-running PBS television series, Mystery! In 1977, he won a Tony for best costume and set design for work he did for Dracula, starring Frank Langella. A very limited edition of photographs of the set design drawings were made, and one copy is part of the Alpern gift.

Andrew Alpern is a noted architectural historian and attorney who has been active in historic preservation for a long time. The author of nine books and scores of articles, Alpern recently donated to the Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library at Columbia his superb collection of drawing instruments from the early eighteenth through the twentieth centuries. The Columbia University Libraries recently published a catalogue of that collection, The Andrew Alpern Collection of Drawing Instruments. Alpern’s interest in Gorey goes back to the many occasions when he would see the illustrator at the Gotham Book Mart, a famous Manhattan bookstore. Andreas Brown, who owned the Book Mart, had taken an early interest in Gorey and helped promote Gorey’s work at his store. In 1980, Alpern published a collection of ephemera by Gorey.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Two John Bellairs Titles

The Eyes of the Killer Robot was published in 1986 by Dial Books for Young Readers. This title has a wrap-around dust jacket design and a frontis drawing by Edward Gorey. I don't feel that the dust jacket painting for this book is as polished as the art for many of the other titles in the series. The artwork does convey atmosphere, but is not a favorite of mine. To my knowledge, the art from this title was not included with the other Bellairs artwork sold in 1994.

The Lamp from the Warlock's Tomb was published in 1988 by Dial Books for Young Readers. Edward Gorey created a wrap-around dust jacket painting and a black & white frontis illustration. The art for the cover of the book is wonderfully spooky, but this is one of the disjointed paintings created for the series. The front and back cover of the dust jacket do not read as a continuous image when viewed as a single image. The back of the jacket is daytime and the front is night, and there is a solid break at the spine between the images. This is one of the dust jacket paintings that was cut and sold in two pieces by Gotham Book Mart (see my posting from January 18, 2010). An image of the front half of the dust jacket art without the type was included in Gorey Rare, a 2007 spiral bound calendar/date book.

I own the frontis illustration from this title. This is one of the more technically challenging pieces of art created by Edward Gorey for the Bellairs series. To convey the darkness of the room, Mr. Gorey covered the entire surface of the art with his signature line work. Even so, the objects in the room are distinct and clearly visible. It is truly a masterpiece of control and consummate skill. When I have my Gorey black and white illustrations framed, my framer often mistakes these pieces of original art for etchings.