Anyone who has read my reviews before on the mastery of Edward Gorey knows my enduring affection for his work, but now Pomegranate has published a beautifully rendered new book showcasing Gorey’s extensive artwork beyond that of his own books called Edward Gorey: His Book Cover Art & Design.
This new volume fills in a gap that many people outside of his core group of fans have never known about. So many know Gorey from his famous works, like his Amphigorey series, The Gashlycrumb Tinies, or The Doubtful Guest. Yet before he ever set his well-loved cross-hatch style of pen and ink on any of those books, he worked as a staff artist for Looking Glass Library (a Random House company), a freelance illustrator, and an art director at Bobbs-Merrill. In that time period he drew, imagined, and reimagined over 200 book covers, displaying incredible images never to be found in his own books.
The style was always distinctly his own, but the covers veered far and wide from the iconic tall, posh people who inhabit many of his stories. Some covers, like one for The American Puritans: Their Prose and Poetry – Edited by Perry Miller (1956), is a stark, open space leaving as much of an impression by what he left out than what he put in.
Or there is The Garden to the Sea by Philip Toynbee (1954) where Gorey creates something more reminiscent of Saul Bass’ iconic movie posters. But there are plenty that are immediately recognizable for the Gorey aficionado, like You read to me, I’ll read to you by John Ciardi (1962).
His art was so wide spread and so influential that when he passed in 2000, the New York Times gave him the rare honor of placing his obituary on the front page. He is also remembered through the official creation of a Gorey font, which is used on the actual cover to this book. Some revered his work so much, like Diana Klemin, the Art Director at Anchor Books from 1953 to 1987, who was quoted in an interview saying, “He could have done the Sistine Chapel.”
Gorey was voracious, both in his output of artwork and his ingest of the written word. When he passed his personal library counted over twenty-five thousand books. His knowledge of art and the world in which it was created was expansive and he felt no qualms about borrowing or straight lifting images or inspirations to help cement the image needed for his current project. yet his talent and vision were never questioned and he to this day reigns as one of the most impressive and impactful artists, at the very least to the author of this review.
As to the book, Pomegranate has built a reputation for beautiful, elegant, and eye-catching productions. Corey’s covers are reproduced with fantastic color and detail. The essay in the beginning of the book from Steven Heller gives the perfect amount of depth to the works, while balancing the biography of the man himself.
Fans of Edward Gorey will need, absolutely need, this book in their collection. My only cautionary message it may increase the size of your book collection as you begin to hunt for every one of these covers yourself.[amazon template=iframe image&asin=YRELO6EXPNFYNYJQ]