The 2020 Edward Gorey House Exhibit
Renowned illustrator, author and book artist, Edward Gorey is also known for his costume and set designs (winning a Tony Award for his production of Dracula), and is famous as the creator of the animated intro to PBS Mystery! seen in American living rooms every Sunday night for over 30 years. In his lifetime, Edward Gorey published 116 self-authored works. Some are iconic such as The Gashlycrumb Tinies and The Doubtful Guest, and some have the smallest of cult followings. Together, all of these works are an iceberg tip to a vast body of unpublished material filling dozens of notebooks, stuffed into file folders, or neatly three-hole punched into binders. It’s a handful of these unpublished works and almost works that make up this year’s exhibit He wrote it all down Zealously.
Either as typed-out finished texts that Gorey never got around to illustrating, or as spontaneous drafts that spilled across his notebooks, viewed as a whole, these works create a parallel universe of familiar Gorey types: misadventurous adults, doomed children, shaman-like animals, and mysteriously-animated inanimate objects. Accompanied throughout with various whimseys, false starts, outlines, deadlines, dances, costumes, sets, book lists, film lists, lists of lists, appointments, and epiphanies—we have the closest thing one can have to what might be a typical lunch conversation with Edward Gorey (admittedly one-sided and without lunch).
As frequently stated: Gorey’s work is all about what isn’t said and isn’t shown. For that reason, we’re going to leave much for the viewer to decipher and analyze—that’s how Gorey’s work functions best. Remember that we’re all trespassing into material that Gorey never intended to make public in its current state. Give it your scrutiny, but remember that, above almost all else, Gorey enjoyed inscrutability. There are almost no finished works in this exhibit, merely what ifs—all conveying Gorey’s lifelong love of words and imagery and their interplay. They all reveal that first flush of an idea captured, the 10% inspiration that happens before the 90% perspiration that follows. You’ll be gazing upon titles and fragments that never made it above the surface—The Interesting List, The Haunted Blancmange, The Napkin Folders, and The Black Lobster among others. While these titles never reached publication, their presence helped shape and mold the works that did rise—and those classic works are stronger because of these works. Even if progressing no further than a title, they are a glimpse into a universe of constant creativity.
Magical or mundane, pointed or meandering, euphoric or hinting at some tragic loneliness, Gorey’s notebooks reflect an endless curiosity—exactly what one would expect to find circulating in the head of an artist.
We are indebted to Eric Sherman and Andrew Boose of the Edward Gorey Charitable Trust, and archivist William Baker for allowing us access to this enormous body of unpublished works—a treasure house of drafts that Gorey left unfinished. Thanks also to Andrew Alpern whose joy in dirtying his hands with these works is an inspiration to all.
2020 Hours for the Edward Gorey House:
April 9 to June 28: Thu/Fri/Sat: 11am-4pm; Sun: 12-4pm
July 1 to October 11: Wed/Thu/Fri/Sat: 11am-4pm; Sun: 12-4pm
October 16 to December 27: Fri/Sat: 11am-4pm; Sun: 12-4pm
Visit our Plan Your Visit page for directions and more >>