Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Saturday, December 8, 2012
Leaves From A Mislaid Album (see my posting from April 24, 2009) first appeared in First Person, A Journal of Travel Memoirs and Humor, Volume 1 Issue #1, edited by Morton Elevitch and published by Bradford & Bigelow, Salem, MA, Fall 1960. This publication marks the first appearance of a "story" by Edward Gorey in a periodical publication. Previous to this, he created a cover design for The Harvard Advocate in 1950 and for Harper's in 1952, but it was not until after this publication that Mr. Gorey's work began to appear regularly in periodicals. The cover illustration and seven of the seventeen images created for this title are featured in the publication.
It was long speculated that the only "A" Collection book that Edward Gorey released original artwork from was The Broken Spoke, when in fact he also sold pieces from Leaves From A Mislaid Album. I know of at least three pieces of original artwork from LFAMA which are in private collections, including one piece in my collection.
The artwork I have shows a typically English gentleman, dressed in "tweeds" and a cap standing in long grass. The fineness of the line work in this piece is truly remarkable. The leaves of long grass are mere whispers of line on the surface of the paper, yet they combine to create a deep backdrop for the man standing in contemplation. The rendering of the man's black boots and tie are so densely cross hatched that the surface of the paper has been torn by the pen point and ink has soaked into the paper. The piece is hand signed by Edward Gorey.
I have framed this piece in a moss green velvet matte and it looks like it came from an antique picture album. As so often happens with Gorey artwork, my framer tried to convince me that I had a Victorian etching and not a piece of original artwork from 1960!
Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Thursday, November 22, 2012
Monday, November 12, 2012
On December 5, 2008 and January 9, 2009, I posted images of two pieces of original Edward Gorey artwork in my collection that were published in Friends Magazine. At the time, I mentioned that I was not sure which specific issues of the magazine these images appeared in. Recently, another collector of the works of Mr. Gorey provided me with scans and dates of the magazines in which the art appears.
According to their records, Edward Gorey produced images for twelve different issues of Friends Magazine between 1961 and 1965, but there may be more yet to find. The first of the two pieces of art I have is titled Departing Train(see image above) and was published in the July 1962 issue of the magazine. This remains one of my top five favorite pieces of original art by Mr. Gorey in my collection.
The second piece of Friends art, Boy With Dog Chasing Butterfly, was published in the January 1963 issue of the magazine. This wonderful image illustrates an amusing article about animals who do not let their human companions tell them what to do. The difference between the humans in the photos and the boy in the drawing is that the boy appears to be enjoying his situation thoroughly!
Saturday, November 3, 2012
Saint Melissa the Mottled was originally published in 1949 at Radcliffe College in a publication entitled Signature (scans of the original printing were provided by another collector). Radcliffe College, a woman's liberal arts college in Cambridge, MA founded in 1879, officially became part of Harvard University during World War II. After serving in the Army during World War II, Edward Gorey attended Harvard University from 1946 - 50.
Mr. Gorey's first published illustrations adorn the cover of the Harvard Advocate in 1950 and he published his first book, The Unstrung Harp, in 1953. It is of interest to note that SMtM may actually be Mr. Gorey's first published story, and may be his only story published as Edward St. John Gorey. This piece of writing predates his first book by three years and gives us an example of his earliest writing. One would need to have access to the Harvard/Radcliffe publication archives to find out if any other published writing by Mr. Gorey predates this story.
Compared to Mr. Gorey's later works, SMtM is text heavy in the same way that The Unstrung Harp is, which is unsurprising since this piece was a short story without illustrations. Both works share a love of language and humor that will become Mr. Gorey's trademark writing style. That SMtM is a less polished text than TUH is evident in the difficult to read final meandering sentence of the book, which awkwardly ties up the loose ends of the story.
The Edward Gorey Charitable Trust, the publishers, and book designer John Candell have done a fantastic job making this volume look like a "Gorey book". Since the story was written by Mr. Gorey but never illustrated, they have chosen "appropriate images from the hand of the author" to accompany the text. The artwork is black and white and comes from a variety of well known and obscure sources. The printing quality of the illustrations varies from piece to piece, some of which are beautifully delicate while others are not reproduced at the same high quality. Like the recently published Edward Gorey's Ghosts, SMtM is a visual pop quiz for the Gorey enthusiast and a must-have volume for every Gorey collector.
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Saturday, October 27, 2012
To view a video about how the exhibition came together, click here.
Sunday, October 21, 2012
Below, I am typing out the article/interview since the copy can be a little hard to read on the scan and it is an interesting view of/by Edward Gorey:
A FURRY STORY ON EDWARD GOREY
Edward Gorey - successful book illustrator, writer and designer of stage sets for the Broadway production of Dracula - has worked out a business arrangement to design a line of men's furs for Ben Kahn.
On the day of this interview he is going to meet Ernest Graf, President of the firm. Together, they will review Gorey's fanciful sketches and make further plans for the artist's first formal venture into the fashion business.
Edward Gorey walks to his closet silently because he is wearing sneakers as usual with his outfit of the moment or any moment - dungarees and a sweater torn at one elbow. He opens the door.
The closet is stuffed full of fur coats too numerous to count. He has designed them all over a period of many years. There is no room in the closet for his other possessions. His hands, adorned with enormous African-inspired rings of brass and bronze, reach in and pull out the fur of the day - Russian raccoon dyed blue. He slips into it, wrapping it around his sturdy 6'4" frame. The collar swaddles his neck, hiding the gold loop earring in his left ear. Part of his greying beard disappears into the collar as well.
Edward Gorey has six cats, five strays and an Abyssinian. They are his silent critics. Before leaving for the Ben Kahn showroom, he glances at them and at the accumulation of books and illustrations that occupy various spaces in his one-room apartment.
Incredulity and Shock
Edward Gorey's drawings and text, apart from Dracula stage sets and forthcoming pop-up books, have more than a touch of the macabre. But, like Charles Addams, the dark side of his nature works itself out in his art. In conversation, Edward Gorey is a benign and sociable citizen. The most hair-raising statement he made in the course of the pleasant interview was the following:
"Neiman-Marcus is charging $25,000 for a fisher coat. That is one of the lunatic things. I have a fisher coat. It's old-fashioned now because I've had it fifteen years. It's not quite full length but it's very bulky and it has a great big collar and huge cuffs. It's skin-on-skin which is what I prefer anyway. I hate all this letting-out business. I paid (Gorey's voice draws it out slowly and conspiratorially) seven hundred and fifty dollars for it! In fifteen years, a fisher coat has gone up from $750 to $25,000!"
"About fur design," Gorey says, "let the fur speak for itself. I hate fussy designs, these sort of ditsy things, little bits of leather, epaulets, little bits of brass.... My favorite fur is fisher. The most comfortable fur is mink. I have two, three mink coats as a matter of fact...My favorite fur color is bright yellows."
It was suggested that conservationists might consider it decadent to dye fur bright yellow, or blue, or olive green, to which Gorey replied:
"I have my qualms about it. But if you start thinking that way, if you're wearing leather, if you're eating...No. And (he chuckles) nobody's proved that vegetables don't suffer, actually. Maybe every time you pull a carrot out of the ground it's letting out a scream!"
New York Guide, January 15 - 21, 1979
Sunday, October 14, 2012
In 1979 Edward Gorey was asked to create a line of fur coat designs for Ben Kahn Furs in New York City. At that time, Mr. Gorey was a full fledged fur coat wearer, owning around 20 furs which he wore regularly. He would be seen dashing about New York City in chilly weather dressed in blue jeans (Levi's or Lee's), sneakers, and Brooks Bros. shirts, encased in one of his signature fur coats. Mr. Gorey is quoted at the time as saying that he did not own a suit and rarely wore a tie.
Ernest Graff, president and son-in-law of BKF's founder Ben Kahn, was a fan of Mr. Gorey's work. Ben Kahn started BKF in 1913 and Mr. Graff took over as president after Mr. Kahn's death in
1976. In addition to numerous private clients, the furrier had provided luxury furs for celebrities, movies and for the Broadway stage. The cast of Gorey Stories (1978's ill fated Broadway show of Mr. Gorey's works which opened and closed on October 30th) was dressed on stage in furs by BKF. One of BKF's most famous/infamous clients was Eva Peron, who ordered two trunks of furs to be sent to Argentina in 1950. BKF also provided the furs worn by Patti LuPone for her Broadway starring role in Evita!
The 1979 Edward Gorey Ben Kahn Fur show was in the works for a while. Mr. Gorey designed over 30 coats for the line which was introduced in September 1979, premiering at Sardi's in NYC. Of the design process, Mr. Gorey decided to go for the unique and unusual rather than the expected. "I purposely did slightly more bizarre ideas. There was no use doing sketches of conventional coats, though I'd say there are plenty of fairly conventional things in the collection." Mr. Gorey is quoted as saying in the Palm Beach Daily News. One such "unusual" creation was a red-dyed collegiate letter sweater made of nutria.
In 2010, The Edward Gorey Charitable Trust auctioned Edward Gorey's personal collection of furs. This collection included one coat which he had designed for the Ben Kahn collection - Lot #15, a knee length "Fisher Stroller with blue plaid lining" (see image above left).
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
This past weekend, we visited the newly expanded American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis with visiting family members. The original portion of the museum is housed in a home/castle built in 1908 for Swedish immigrant publisher Swan Turnblad. Mr. Turnblad donated the home to the Institute in 1929, and it has been a center for cultural events since that time.
The home itself is a structure worthy of Edward Gorey's imagination, with turrets, crazy passages and rooms, carvings inside and out, and a second floor conservatory over a porte cochere. At the turn of the grand staircase is the entrance to the elevated conservatory, and this entrance is surrounded by a wall of pictorial stained glass. Comprised of three individual stained glass windows the wall showcases one large horizontal street scene depicting an event in Sweden's history which spans the length of the landing, and two smaller windows on either side of the doorway into the conservatory, each showing a knight.
The knight to the right of the doorway looks as if it has stepped out of an Edward Gorey drawing from the John Bellairs book series. Everything about this guardian reminded us of Gorey's work, from the stance, to the detailed painting, and the colors chosen. What really changes this from a standard stained glass depiction of a knight guarding an entrance is the head of the knight. The faceless armor is all the more striking because of the eyes looking out from the slits in the face mask. These eyes stare out at passerby and follow you wherever you go on the landing! We expected to be stopped and questioned as we passed by.
Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Each year, the Edward Gorey House produces several limited edition prints. The selection for 2012 includes a favorite Gorey story, and two wonderful color images. The prints are available unsigned and in a signed/numbered limited edition. Each limited edition print is "signed" with an embossed facsimile of Edward Gorey's signature. To purchase prints, go the the Edward Gorey House website.
As you will see, this year's selection is firmly rooted in artwork created by Edward Gorey in 1973, a time period when Mr. Gorey was at the height of his artistic powers:
Little Zooks - image: 4 5/8" x 15 1/2", paper 7" x 17" - Unsigned, Limited edition of 200 numbered, and 26 lettered impressions - Originally published as A Limerick in 1973 (see my post from May 10, 2009), this print shows the entire story of the unfortunate Little Zooks.
Blue Plate Special - image: 7 5/8" x 8 1/8", paper 9 1/2" x 11 1/2" - Unsigned, Limited edition of 200 numbered, and 26 lettered impressions - This unusual image was one of the Fine Art pieces Edward Gorey created for his first Graham Gallery show in 1973 (see my post from June 30, 2009). It appears in the list of works as "#7 China pattern, picnic", but to my knowledge has not been reproduced until now. This is one of several pieces of art included the show which was inspired by china patterns.
Dancing on the Sabbath - image: 6" x 10 1/4", paper 9 1/2" x 11 1/2" - Unsigned, Limited edition of 200 numbered, and 26 lettered impressions - This image was one of the Fine Art pieces Edward Gorey created for his first Graham Gallery show in 1973 (see my post from June 30, 2009). The artwork was reproduced in the gallery booklet for the show. This lovely image looks as though it may have been inspired by The Red Shoes, although it is unclear if the original art was colored by Mr. Gorey, or was originally black and white and colored for reproduction.
2012 Envelope Art Poster - 11 3/4" x 15 1/8" - This image is only available as an exhibition poster and not as a signed limited edition print. The fantastically detailed cover artwork from Other People's Mail (published in 1973) has been adapted to create this exhibition poster.
Sunday, September 30, 2012
This past weekend, Bill and I took a quick trip to Los Angeles, California for our stained glass business and had a free day on Saturday. We decided to take a day trip to the Huntington Library and Gardens in Pasadena to see the artwork on display in the several museum buildings and stroll the grounds. The grounds are extensive, and visitors need a good pair of comfortable walking shoes, sunscreen and a sense of adventure! The variety of the themed gardens include Rose, Australian, Japanese, Sub-Tropical, Lily Pond, Children's, and Cactus gardens.
So what does this have to do with Edward Gorey, apart from the impressive Gorey display in the gift shop? Whenever I visit a new place I bring along my influences and inspirations with me. For our trip to the Huntington, I was forcibly reminded of many books and drawings by Edward Gorey! In the photo at the top of the post, if you remove the palms, you have a Gorey vista complete with manicured lawn and statues - a perfect setting for a mischief to occur.
Anyone who wonders what it would be like to visit The Evil Garden, Edward Gorey's fantastically deadly park where the foliage is forbidding and getting out alive is practically impossible, should visit the Huntington's Cactus Garden! This is one garden where you definitely do not want to stray from the paths. Located to the left of the entrance, one of the first things we ran across on our way into the garden was a lush plant with bright red, juicy berries...and a sign saying NOT to eat them as they would certainly disagree with you!
The further we went into the Cactus Garden, the more we felt like the plants were allowing us to pass, only to lure us into a false sense of security while they picked the right time to pounce! This is not a small cluster of interesting cactus, this garden is a maze of walkways with rare and beautiful plants of jaw-dropping proportions and quantities. We were happy we picked up a map when we entered the grounds, because we found ourselves wandering the paths of this garden without knowing where we were exactly.
The Lily Ponds were beautifully choked with water plants, fish and even turtles. I kept an eye out for Little Zooks to go flying past on his trajectory.
When next in Pasadena, visit the spectacular Huntington Library and Gardens and look at things with a Gorey perspective! Who knows what you may see...
Thursday, September 27, 2012
Friday, September 7, 2012
A Halloween Treat/Edward Gorey's Ghosts is the first "new" book by Edward Gorey to be published since 1999's The Headless Bust. The book is published by Bloomsbury USA, and is now available.
A Halloween Treat is a short piece, obviously created by Mr. Gorey for a periodical or similar publication. The ten delightful illustrations - each accompanies one letter for the word Halloween plus one additional picture - feature children and Mr. Gorey's signature cats in various disguises out Trick or Treating. The "cat bat" for the second "e" is particularly memorable. The participants occasionally comment on their adventures.
Monday, September 3, 2012
Over the past couple years, the Edward Gorey Charitable Trust has been working with Pomegranate Books to publish a number of Edward Gorey's books. While many of these books are reprints of titles previously offered, a handful of the titles are actually the first hardcover trade editions - not reprints or second printings.
Edward Gorey privately printed many of his stories as small, limited edition volumes under his Fantod Press imprint. These books were offered for sale through Gotham Book Mart and select book dealers. Many of the limited edition books were never printed in regular, or "trade" hardcover editions...until now.
First edition Edward Gorey books published by Pomegranate include: The Black Doll, The Evil Garden, The Lost Lions, Thoughtful Alphabets (The Just Dessert & The Deadly Blotter), The Sopping Thursday and The Osbick Bird. These titles represent the first trade hardcover printings of the books, and thus are not reprints, but first editions!
Monday, August 20, 2012
Saturday, August 11, 2012
Edward Gorey was commissioned to provide a brochure illustration for the very first of these weekends, and continued to do so for many years. Mr. Gorey created classic images for each brochure, my favorite being the killer posing as a snowman from 1979. I am not sure how many brochures he illustrated, but I know my set is incomplete. I have six brochures and each is hand signed by Mr. Gorey. The first two brochures are printed in two colors, the others in black and white.
Thursday, August 2, 2012
Between 1974 and 1993, Mr. Gorey's work appeared in TV Guide over 20 times. Due to the small format of the magazine, Edward Gorey's TV Guide pieces were drawn larger than the finished printed size, and were almost always created in color. I have two TV Guide spot illustrations in my collection, both of which appeared in many issues of the magazine in the 1980's and '90s.
The next piece of art is 3" x 5" and was used on the last page of the magazine for the Review section. It is a self portrait of Mr. Gorey sitting in front of an abnormally large television set, dressed in the style of comfortable clothing he often wore around the Cape - shorts, baggy knit sweater, hat and scarf. Notepad in hand, and with provisions nearby for a long viewing session, the most entertaining and inexplicable part of the drawing is the large green alligator who is present.