Art Institute of Boston

Lesley College, Boston, MA



Edward Gorey: Works on Paper

Edward Gorey, Original art for "Signals"

"Edward Gorey: Works on Paper" opens March 18, 1999 at The Art Institute of Boston at Lesley College, 700 Beacon Street, Boston. The exhibition showcases works by critically acclaimed author, illustrator, and "underground celebrity" Edward Gorey. In a career that spans almost 50 years, Gorey has produced over 100 books of "meticulous pen-and-ink drawings and small tales of mystery, enigma and horror," and designed sets and costumes for theater, including the 1978 Broadway production of "Dracula." An opening reception for the artist will be held in the gallery on Thursday, March 25, from 5 to 7pm. The exhibition runs through April 23, 1999.

"We are so pleased to present Gorey in Boston," comments exhibition curator Bonnell Robinson. "Gorey is a genius. He is a national living treasure who holds a unique position as an author and an artist. For decades, he has created a world of sinister sophistication and wit which has endeared him to a devoted audience." A "precocious" personality, the self-taught Gorey had already achieved artistic maturity by his early twenties. Described as a kindred spirit of Edward Lear and Lewis Carroll, Edward Gorey's stylistically consistent cast of mostly black-and-white characters appear to be drawn from late Victorian or Edwardian England, They move about with the nonchalance of "ordinary life," while Gorey examines, with short, witty nonsense verses and the occasional aberrant creature, "the conflict between the cozy and the sinister." The result is a body of work that is "macabre, yet delicate; grim but amusing; ghoulish without a drop of blood."

Michael Dirda of the Washington Post notes, "Only a few other comic imaginations...have created worlds at once so familiar and yet so completely original."

Edward Gorey was born in Chicago in 1925. Mostly self-taught, Gorey spent one semester at the Art Institute of Chicago before being drafted for World War II. He studied French at Harvard College, where he developed an interest in the works of Ivy Compton-Burnett, and in French surrealism, Symbolism, and Chinese and Japanese literature. These interests continue to inform Gorey's work.

New Yorker critic Stephen Schiff comments, "He finds a meeting place between the surrealists and the Japanese, who allow silence to create meaning by letting the reader fill in what's left out."

Among Gorey's awards are a 1978 Tony Award for costume design on the Broadway production of "Dracula." Gorey has designed posters for the New York City Ballet and New York City Opera, and designed and illustrated the opening sequence of PBS's "Mystery!" Series. Gorey has written, designed, and directed several plays and musical revues, including the critically acclaimed Tinned Lettuce at New York University. Well received by critics, Gorey has sometimes reworked his books for theater. A musical revue of his Gorey Stories was produced On- and Off-Broadway; Amphigorey, published in 1972, was produced Off-Broadway. Amphigorey was also chosen by The New York Times as one of the year's five noteworthy books, and named in the year's fifty best designed books by the American Institute of Graphic Arts. Other critically acclaimed books are The Doubtful Guest, The Abandoned Sock, and The Grashlycrumb Tinies, among others.

Edward Gorey currently lives and works in Yarmouthport, Cape Cod.

Financial support for this exhibition is provided by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

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