Wednesday, June 20, 2012

edward gorey at the norton

“My mission in life is to make everybody as uneasy as possible. I think we should all be as uneasy as possible, because that's what the world is like.”
Currently on view at the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, FL, is Elegant Enigmas: The Art of Edward Gorey, running through Sept. 2. The retrospective show has been touring the country, and includes some 150 drawings by the talented artist. Gorey died in 2000, at the age of 75.

The Blue Aspic, 1968, pen and ink (Check out the ring on her toe!)
The Norton has set up the exhibit to encourage the viewer to take their time and really immerse themselves in Gorey's intricate, frequently morbid, but always amusing drawings. Multiple magnifying glasses are set up at intervals to allow viewers to discover details and get lost in the artist's cross-hatching. There is also a room that includes a wall of Gorey's books to enjoy. Only certain illustrations from some of his best-loved titles, like The Unstrung Harp, The Other Statue, and The Gashlycrumb Tinies appear in the show, so it is nice to be able to sit and flip through the entire book on an overstuffed, over-sized, Victorian pouf. There is also a room where one can pose in a Gorey-esque tableaux and a place for kids (and adults) to try their hand at drawing their own Gorey illustrations.

“The helpful thought for which you look
Is written somewhere in a book.”

Who's that at the window?
Draw your own Gorey, if you dare
Along with Gorey's original pen-and-ink illustrations, are preparatory sketches done in pencil, some watercolor designs he did for a production of The Mikado, and some cleverly illustrated envelopes/letters to his mother. Also included are illustrations he did for other writers' books, like Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats by T. S. Eliot, miniature (that is, really tiny) books, and a deck of cards which, when shuffled, tell a story.

Elegant Enigmas: The Art of Edward Gorey is a lot of fun. It's easy to get immersed in Gorey's world. I can't wait to go back and see it, magnifying glass in hand, again.

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