Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Habitions Mental Illness

One of the more "original" pieces of original artwork by Edward Gorey included in the July 16, 2020 Illustration Art Auction at Swann Galleries was Habitions Mental Illness. This piece is something of a humorous enigma. The title, written in pencil across the bottom of the drawing by someone other than Mr. Gorey is presumably correct, but no publication has yet been discovered. In the upper right hand corner, Andreas Brown's distinctive handwriting says, "UNPUBLISHED?", but this was probably a guess on the part of Mr. Brown.

Most likely, this piece was done for a magazine article. The denotation "Right" suggests that it is possibly one half of a pair of drawings or that there was a title to the left on a facing page. The artwork has the notation, "For Aaron Fine" and is signed in ink. The figures and signature are stylistically consistent with pieces drawn in the late 1960's and 70's. There is a gentle matte line above and below the image which indicates that the piece was framed and displayed for a time in a home or office and exposed to sunlight in the frame.

Mr. Gorey often gifted or sold drawings to professional colleagues (agents, editors, publishers, art directors, etc.), friends, or fans who showed an appreciation for his efforts. During the 90's there was heightened interest from collectors in obtaining original artwork, and The Gotham Book Mart was the place where a knowledgeable collector began their search. Gotham bought and sold collections and individual pieces of original artwork and it can be presumed that Mr. Fine or his estate sold the drawing to Gotham in 1998 and that Andreas Brown then sold the piece to a collector. 

Each person depicted in this piece is in a state of physical and mental distress. The physical maladies are best described as quirky. The woman holding the hatchet has two right hands! Given the overall subject of this piece, this may have been intentional, but one has to admit it is odd.

A favorite, slightly racy member of the party is the woman in the upper left corner who is holding what appears to be a breast in each hand. Are her breasts detachable or is she considering enhancement surgery? 

Mr. Gorey has painted in the background using a brush and black ink instead of cross hatching the entire drawing. In the photo of the artwork the brush strokes are obvious. When the image was printed, the black would solidify. This piece is a prime example of how a piece will change when printed, and how Mr. Gorey understood exactly how the printed image would turn out.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Auction News - A New Record Price

A new record price was set at auction today for a piece of original artwork by Edward Gorey at Swann Auction Galleries. Lot 160 featured a matched pair of drawings framed together that were created as part of the theatrical environment for Amphigorey, A Musicale. The drawings, drawn at a 1/2" = 1' scale were reproduced as cutout "theatrical boxes" with life sized figures and hung on either side of the stage at the Perry Street Theater. The effect when entering the theater was that there were already well heeled audience members awaiting the start of the production.
This exciting pair of drawings was given to actor/producer Kevin McDermott by Mr. Gorey when he was fundraising for the production of Off Broadway production of The Gorey Details. The drawings have been in a private collection since 1999/2000. Estimated at $4000.00 to $6000.00, the final auction sale price (including buyer's premium) was $22,500.00. The previous auction record of $18,750.00 for a work by Edward Gorey was also achieved at Swann in 2017 (see my post https://goreyana.blogspot.com/2017/03/auction-news_23.html).

Monday, July 13, 2020


Jigsaw puzzles continue to be a favorite pandemic pastime as everyone is encouraged to spend more time sheltered in place. For the Goreyphile, a picture puzzle with an intricate image by Edward Gorey is a great way to spend some time sharpening the eye and relaxing.

My collection of Gorey puzzles includes all but one of the puzzles that have been commercially available - the 100 piece Bibliophile With Cats puzzle. The other puzzles include a vintage Dracula Poster puzzle and the 8 puzzles published by Pomegranate that range from 300 to 1000 pieces. The vintage Dracula is only available on the secondary market, but the other puzzles can be ordered from The Edward Gorey House Store https://goreystore.com  or from other online sources.

The difficulty level of these puzzles also varies greatly both with the piece count and image. Here is how I rate the level of challenge:

Bibliophile With Cats 100 pieces
Seventeen Cats 300 pieces
Dancing Cats 300 pieces
Dracula (vintage) 500 pieces

Edward Gorey's Book Covers 1000 pieces
Gorey Theater 1000 pieces
Edward Gorey An Exhibition (God in Jammies) 1000 pieces

Dracula in Dr. Seward's Library 500 pieces
Frawgge Mfg Co 1000 pieces

Drive You To Distraction
Cat Fancy 1000 piece - Honestly, I had to give up and put it away. Perhaps I will try it again some day.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Consuelo Joerns 1925 - 2020

Consuelo Joerns has passed at the age of 94. Ms. Joerns was Edward Gorey's close lifelong friend since they attended the Frances W. Parker School together. Her obituary is here: https://www.stronghancock.com/obituary/Consuelo-Joerns?fbclid=IwAR1vUBhNibu2bOLMdLzkxXN0GI-mMmWI0o05aU5z1VSa9roQoX60yrqJdIM