Fine Art Notebook™

The art world in general, NY, South Florida and Italy in particular…

Edward Gorey’s Grimly Amusing Art

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Edward Gorey Elegant Enigmas Norton Museum of Art West Palm Beach Jenifer Mangione Vogt

“B is for Basil assaulted by Bears from The Gashlycrumb Tinies; or, After the Outing,” 1963, by Edward Gorey Pen and Ink, 2 7/8 x 4 in., ©2010 The Edward Gorey Charitable Trust

Poor Basil.  Clearly he’s doomed.

I’ve been enchanted with Edward Gorey’s black and white illustrations since I first saw them gracing the opening and closing credits of the PBS Mystery! series, but clearly never looked too closely because when I did, recently, at Elegant Enigmas: the Art of Edward Gorey, I realized I’d missed a lot.  I’d missed the grim and humorous nuances that makes his work so enchanting.  I wrote about these observations in my review of the exhibit for The Palm Beach ArtsPaper.

Gorey appeals to me because he was a quirky original who loved cats and frequently attended NYC ballet performances in a full-length fur coat then, according to the Paris Review, left his estate to animal welfare organizations because he felt guilty.  Responding evasively to inquiries about his sexual preference, he’d say, “I’m not sure if I’m gay.”  I relate to his ambiguity, but I think I most admire his insistence on remaining true to himself.

At the time of his death in 2000, Gorey had become a global brand with a cult-like following.


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