Edward Gorey is one of my favorite artists of all time. His darkly neo-Victorian tales of mystery, woe and fatal accidents, peppered with peculiar characters, surreal imagery and quirky wordplay, have always captured my imagination. He did everything from illustrate books to design costumes and sets for the theatre (he won the Tony Award for Best Costume Design for the 1977 Broadway production of Dracula) to provide the animated opening to the famous PBS series Mystery!. Gorey passed away in 2000 at his home on Cape Cod, which has since been transformed into a museum dedicated to his life, art and legacy.
I was delighted to recently discover a new exhibit of his work at the Boston Athenæum, entitled Elegant Enigmas: The Art of Edward Gorey, which runs until June 4, 2011. The collection on display, courtesy of the Gorey Charitable Trust, encompasses original pen and ink illustrations, preparatory sketches, unpublished drawings and ephemera including rare handmade dolls of Gorey characters. There are approximately 180 objects on display, including selections from the books The Gashlycrumb Tinies and The Unstrung Harp, costume design from a production of The Mikado and colorfully illustrated envelopes he mailed to his mother in 1948 while studying at Harvard.
If you’re a Gorey aficionado or have some interest in his work, head over to the Athenæum, located right near Boston Common, and check it out. Admission is only $5, and it takes about an hour to go through. Just the chance to see his incredibly detailed line work up close is fantastic. For those who cannot make the exhibition, the pieces on display have been cataloged and written about in a book with the same title.