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'E' is for Elephants: The Etchings of Edward Gorey

January 20 - February 27, 2016

edward gorey print

Elephant and Prostrate Passenger, etching, © Edward Gorey Charitable Trust


Edward St. John Gorey’s masterful pen-and-ink illustrations and ironic, offbeat humor appeal to those interested in the surreal, the macabre and the nonsensical. A truly prodigious artist, Gorey (1925-2000) published over one hundred titles, including The Gashlycrumb Tinies, The Doubtful Guest and The Wuggly Ump. He also produced Tony Award-winning set and costume designs for theater productions from Cape Cod to Broadway. Gorey’s illustrations have appeared in The New Yorker and The New York Times and in books by Charles Dickens, Edward Lear, H.G. Wells and Virginia Woolf. His animated credits, created in 1980 for the PBS Masterpiece Mystery! series, introduced his work to millions of television viewers.

This exhibition presents, at its core, the image of the elephant alongside images of other earthly and fictional “beasts.” Elephants cavort, carry figures on their backs, shower and hold dapper canes in these enigmatic images. Prints of animated thumbs and a balletic series of an oddly endearing fantastical creature called Figbash are also included in the exhibition. Made in the last decade of his career, these prints reveal Gorey’s obsession with animals and all things elephantine. Tenderness and grace are revealed through a large, weighty creature moving delicately through mysterious terrain.

Beyond his literary and artistic pursuits, Gorey was deeply invested in the protection of animals. Through the Edward Gorey Charitable Trust, numerous animal welfare organizations receive funding, including the Tufts Veterinary School in Grafton, Massachusetts, the Bat Conservation International Foundation in Austin, Texas, and the Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee, among others.

Special thanks to the Edward Gorey House, Yarmouth Port, Massachusetts.

Curator James A. Edwards was interviewed by Todd Moe for North Country Public Radio, broadcast date January 19, 2016.


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