The Edward Gorey House opens up its 15th season on Friday, April 15th with an exhibit of, as the title suggests, a trove of never-seen and rarely-seen artwork produced by writer/illustrator Edward Gorey. Artifacts from the Archives offers an eclectic and pleasantly inexplicable menagerie of characters, creatures and landscapes in ink, paper, ceramic, and leather, which have—until now—languished in obscurity. Spanning almost all of Gorey's career from childhood cut paper works, to figure studies from his teen years to exquisitely colored works from the early 1950s through to ceramic works and etchings created while living in Cape Cod. Most of the work in this year's exhibit has never been publicly displayed —most notably, Gorey's unpublished book The Angel, The Automobilist, and Eighteen Others. Also uncovered for this exhibit are additional pages from Gorey's unfinished Poobelle (—or, The Guinea-Pig's Revenge) an early work that, because of the wronged Guinea Pig's tendency toward arson, Gorey thought it best to put aside. Two proposed covers for the unpublished The Interesting List—a manuscript for Harper & Row that never quite came to fruition—are also displayed. It is revealing how much of his self-authored work Gorey was always putting in front of publishers, especially when considering the crushing output of cover and illustration assignments he was simultaneously producing for others (as last year's From Aesop to Updike exhibit, attests to).
More Info About the Exhibit
When once asked what he was like as a child, Gorey replied “Small” and as part of Artifacts from the Archives we've included very very early works by a very very young Gorey. A large stash of artwork from Gorey's childhood and teens still exists and we have his mother, Helen, to thank—collage, cut paper and art class assignments—a rich collection of young Gorey highlighting an ever-evolving exploration of design and an ever-developing style that would become Gorey's signature. These formative works, produced at the Francis Parker School and at summer classes at the Chicago Art Institute, show an emerging talent and an already established interest in maudlin humor, sinister workings and the porous boundaries separating animals and humans. Fascinating too are strong influences by artists as diverse as Sir John Tenniel, Giorgio Di Chirico, Alberto Vargas, George Herriman and James Thurber.
Some of the works in Artifacts from the Archives are dated and others have had educated guesses placed to them. Except for obscure magazine and editorial assignments the context for many of the works from the archive are long lost and we are left gazing at what can only be taken as a stand-alone work—a glimpse into a strange and complex story—with the viewer in charge of filling in exactly what could have happened leading up to it and what might possibly happen next. This is, of course, exactly what Gorey would want us to do.
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