Monday, January 27, 2014

Auction News

The 20th Century Illustration Auction at Swann Galleries held on January 23 concluded with strong prices realized on many of the lots offered. Of particular interest were the eight pieces of original art by Edward Gorey. This grouping was consigned from several different collections, and each piece offered was sold.

All the pieces in the auction were water color paintings with pen & ink. The artwork ranged from a work created by young Edward in 1939 when he was in middle school (see the bathing beauty to the left) to a piece created in 1998, just two years before he died. Cat in a portable niche (see image at the top) was created in 1974 for Mr. Gorey's Plain & Coloured Drawings exhibition at the Graham Gallery. A fanciful Pool Party featured a line of suntanned hipsters sipping cocktails and comparing their Capri Pants and exposed navels.

Of particular interest were four dust jacket cover designs by Mr. Gorey for books from the John Bellairs book series. Each was accompanied by the separate piece of art for the lettering. One of these pieces, the dust jacket design for The Ghost in the Mirror, has some curious numbers written in the margins below the image. These numbers represent the original mid-90's Gotham Book Mart price of the piece: for the back cover (900), the front cover (850) or the painting as a whole (1600). If you reference my posting from January 18, 2010 you will find out more about this unusual, short lived occurrence of cutting up the Bellairs art. Fortunately, the original purchaser decided to buy the piece as a whole, thus preserving a wonderfully spooky painting.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Edward Gorey's 1974 Show at Graham Gallery

As frequent readers of my blog have no doubt realized, I am slightly obsessed with Edward Gorey's two Graham Gallery shows from 1974 & 1975. There is a printed checklist for the '74 show, but nothing seems to exist for the '75 show, so the later exhibition remains more enigmatic than the earlier outing.

Since I have been locating and posting images from the '74 show somewhat piecemeal over the past several years, I thought it might be nice to see as much of the show as possible in one post. I have identified 21 of the 46 images created for the show. If anyone has images for any of the still elusive pieces and would care to forward them, I would love to be able to add them to the posting.

1. Trying to feed the baby to the dog
2. Two children on a rock
3. Cell
4. Chinese life
5. Dancing on the Sabbath 
6. Animals and wall
7. China design: picnic
8. Birds and car
9. Animals and train
10. Ballet dancer on skull
11. Football player with skull
12. Bathroom wallpaper design
13. Animals and urn
14. After a Staffordshire sugarbowl

15. Child on swing
16. The white butterfly
17. A dull afternoon
18. Platter design
19. Man and floating skull
20. Unpleasant fan design
21. Blue urns
22. Plain & Coloured Drawings (cover of booklet)
23. Verso: Plain & Coloured Drawings (rear cover of booklet)
24. Discrete self-portrait
25. Tennis (This is a guess - not sure if this is the correct image)
26. Animal going to a party
27. Animal holding banner
28. String dance I - IIII
29. Cat on cardboard rocks
30. Cat with umbrella and flower
31. Cat wearing long scarf
32. Cat inside empty picture frame
33. Cat drawing wallpaper
34. Cat between andirons
35. Cat on mantelpiece
36. Cat in portable niche

37. Cat at the devil's thimble
38. Masked cat behind pillar
39. Masked cat dancing beside pool
40. Cat at the corner of a carpet
41. Cat composing a poem
42. Cat appearing between parting clouds
43. Cat ascending on a piece of stage machinery
44. Ninety nine puppies wearing orange knitted caps
45. Waxworks
46. Peas

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Auction News

On Thursday January 23rd, Swann Auction Galleries in New York City is having its second 20th Century Illustration Auction. Previews begin Friday January 17th. This auction includes a nice selection of original artwork by Edward Gorey.

Of special interest are four full color paintings by Mr. Gorey created as dust jacket designs the John Bellairs book series. For more information on this sale, visit Swann Galleries.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Edwardian Ball

All dressed up in your Gorey finery and no place to go? Head to San Francisco this weekend for the 14th Annual Edwardian Ball. The two evening event takes place January 17 & 18 at the Regency Ballroom, and again in Los Angeles on February 8. For tickets and more information, go here. On view this year at the Ball will be an original piece of art by Edward Gorey (image is from The Broken Spoke), on loan courtesy of The Cartoon Art Museum.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Marvin Kaye Anthologies

Marvin Kaye is an author and editor of mystery, science fiction and horror stories. Edward Gorey created wraparound dust jacket cover designs for eight of the numerous anthologies Kaye produced. These wonderful Gorey-adorned volumes can often be found quite reasonably.

Ghosts 1981 - Ghost stories, many never before published. This is the simplest of the Kaye jacket designs created by Edward Gorey. It would be interesting to see the original artwork to see if the images were drawn onto the watercolor or superimposed in the printing process.

Masterpieces of Terror and the Supernatural 1985 - Classic & modern tales. Wonderfully spooky vignettes on the front and back of the dust jacket. The spine has a great image of a skeleton dancing with a woman who has fainted.

Devils & Demons 1987 - Horror and suspense stories. One of Edward Gorey's most imaginative dust jacket designs ever! The original artwork for this cover must be truly fantastic. The typography is integrated into the image and would not have been superimposed on top of the painting. The color is somewhat unusual for Mr. Gorey and conveys the fire and heat of the location.

Witches and Warlocks 1989 - Tales of black magic. The artwork created for this dust jacket is an undersea fantasy featuring sea monsters being ridden (presumably) by Witches and Warlocks. The original art from this title was reproduced as a limited edition print by The Edward Gorey House - I am showing print #T/26 lettered copies. The typography was obviously created as a separate piece and reversed on the final dust jacket. These two scans are good example of how much the same piece of artwork can change in color when they are reproduced in different printing techniques.

13 Plays of Ghosts and the Supernatural 1990 - This dust jacket design mimics a two act play, with a ghostly tango as a scene change act in front of the curtain. In the printing, you can see the slight unevenness of the black watercolor in-painting of the background area around the "lit" stage scenes. The typography was created as a separate piece of art and superimposed on the final printed dust jacket.

Haunted America 1990 -American ghost stories.  The final dust jacket shows a severely cropped image from the original artwork (see below). The image was originally intended to be a full wraparound landscape which featured a large statue of a pointing hand on the cover. It was determined that the hand appeared to be giving a rude gesture and the art was cropped for the final printing. The red, white and blue coloration reflects the American theme of the stories within.

The preliminary artwork for Haunted America is almost as highly finished as the final artwork. Rendered in tones of grey and black, the feel is substantially different from the final art. The typography, which was created as a separate piece of art, is indicated on the sketch. The size of the finished lettering dictated the cropping on the final dust jacket design.

Masterpieces of Terror and the Unknown 1992 - Bizarre tales old and new, a companion to the 1985 Kaye anthology. The art for this jacket is elaborate and quite spectacular. A surreal vista featuring two fantasy islands and flying creatures can be seen through the mouth of a cave which has bats and skeletons. The type was once again created as a separate piece of art and reversed on the final dust jacket.

Sweet Revenge 10 Plays of Bloody Murder 1992 - A companion to the 1990 book of ghost plays. This is a colorful wraparound image with costumed characters that resemble Edward Gorey's drawings for the Metropolitan Opera.