Sunday, September 25, 2016

Gorey Exhibition

Elegant Enigmas, the major exhibition of work by Edward Gorey, is currently pirouetting from one museum to another in Japan. During its overseas excursion, there are still places to see exhibitions of Mr. Gorey's works.

The Cranbrook Art Museum has just opened Unsettled, The Work of Edward Gorey which will remain on display through March 12, 2017. The Museum is part of The Cranbrook Academy of Art, a graduate level arts institution, and is located in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.

An anonymous alumnus of the institution has recently donated their Edward Gorey collection to the museum, and this is the core of this exhibition. The museum's website announcement about the exhibition can be found HERE, and an article about the show can be found HERE.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

National Post Card Week

National Post Card Week began in 1984 with the idea that the International Federation of Postcard Dealers and different clubs would create and send cards to celebrate the postcard and promote postcard collecting as a hobby.

This wonderful image of a man and his dog caught in a whirlwind of swirling postcards is the first of 13 cards created by Edward Gorey to promote the event. The Gotham Book Mart mounted an annual exhibition of antique and unique post cards in their gallery. I am slowly adding to my collection of these announcement cards.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Publishers Weekly Cover

Edward Gorey created covers for many periodicals over the course of his long career, including this wonderful 1975 image for the May 19th issue of Publishers Weekly. The issue celebrates the Diamond Jubilee of the American Booksellers Association (ABA), and includes an article about their annual convention.

Since Edward Gorey created his artwork at the size it was to be published, magazine cover illustrations represent some of his largest works.  These works are also usually done in full color, which adds to their appeal when framed. Many times the covers will include hand lettering, but often the title of the publication must be dropped in because the font and placement are part of the publications trademark. In this image, a beautiful painted blue sky occupies the top quarter of the image. On the original artwork, the lack of type above the people simplifies the images and gives the work an open, airy feel.

This whimsical cover acknowledges the passion of authors, especially when pitching their unique stories to book publishers. Each character holds their beloved, if slightly eccentric volume aloft for consideration by the ABA Angel (or bat as the case may be) who hovers above, taking notes. Mr. Gorey even makes fun of his own self published works with the barefoot, bearded man in the center offering his diaries in a "limited edition of 11 copies with an original color shapshot pasted into each one".

The original artwork for this cover is currently available from Bromer Booksellers, Here.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Tale of Genji

In multiple interviews, Edward Gorey was asked about his taste in reading material and his literary inspirations. One of the novels that he consistently singled out as a favorite is The Tale of Genji by Lady Murasaki. While working at Anchor Doubleday, Mr. Gorey was responsible for the cover typography on this title (the copy shown above is not in my personal collection).

Largely regarded as the first "modern" novel, this work of Japanese literature was written in the early years of the 11th century and is attributed to a lady of the imperial court. Genji has a large cast of characters and a story that includes a number families and spans many years.

Genji, has been translated multiple times, and this is no small undertaking. With over four hundred individual characters, the task of translation becomes daunting when one realizes that none of the characters in the original manuscript are given proper names. Due to court etiquette, all characters are referred to only by their titles or functions, and multiple characters have overlapping titles and functions! Add this to the fact that many of the original Japanese words have multiple meanings which are open to interpretation, and a translator has their work cut out for them.

This is the kind of ambiguity that Edward Gorey reveled in and was inspired by. Mr. Gorey had multiple copies of The Tale of Genji in his personal library. These copies, along with the more than 21,000 books in his home at the time of his death, are in the permanent special collections of San Diego University. The university has been cataloging all the books and information about the collection can be found HERE.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Playboy Magazine

The running joke about Playboy Magazine, the ubiquitous men's magazine founded in 1953, is that one purchased a copy to read the articles. While other distractions were included in every issue, Playboy actually featured the prominent writers, thinkers, and artists of the day. Playboy was also known as a place to see the kind of cartoonists not featured in the Sunday papers.

Like many other illustrators of his day, Edward Gorey had a long association with Playboy.  The December 1963 issue features an illustration by Mr. Gorey for A Corking Evening by Lawrence Durrell. This black and white illustration illuminates the joys and perils of too much Christmas cheer. A color illustration for Ukridge Starts A Bank Account by P.G. Woodhouse appeared in the July 1967 issue. Mr. Gorey's final contribution to the publication appears to have been in the November 1988 issue.

Most of Mr. Gorey's illustrations for Playboy were done in color. A surprising number of original pieces of artwork from Playboy have come on the market over the years. Of the ten contributions I know of, five have been sold through dealers or at auction.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Brooklyn Railroad

Published in the July 1962 issue of Friends Magazine, this drawing by Edward Gorey illustrates the article, On Brooklyn Streets And Subway Tracks, It's A Fine Place To Run A Railroad. This is one of my personal favorite pieces of original Gorey artwork in my collection.

This beautifully rendered image shows a train slowly passing through a neighborhood on a summer day. The children are playing with their animal companions on the steps of a walk-up and all are transfixed by the passing train. This is obviously the event of the day; even the large black dog is all attention, while the scrappy striped cat atop the fence is leaning to peer at the train. I find it interesting that the drawing has a warm, nostalgic feel even though the neighborhood it is passing through appears to be in disrepair and the copious amounts of smoke belching from the train would make it a most unwelcome visitor.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Summer Bathers

A lovely frolic at the lakeside, Summer Joy is the fifth print from a series of ten created by Edward Gorey in the early 1990's for the Signals Catalog. This image was available as a framed print in a hand signed edition of 850 prints or a numbered edition of 1750 prints.