An illustration from Edward Gorey’s book The Gashlycrumb Tinies.
From books to the stage set for Broadway’s Dracula to the animated credits he created for PBS, the singular work of Edward Gorey (1925–2000) always rode on a fairy-tale simplicity shot through with a Gothic-tinged nostalgia. Gazing at his odd, finely limned vignettes, one senses the artist at one’s shoulder, like an eager child urging a friend to delight in something naughty. While often characterized as macabre, Gorey’s drawings are never fully creepy, thanks to an almost decorative flourish and deeply satisfying composition. His just-so world—in which death, disaster, and bad behavior are ever-present—is celebrated in the Loyola University Museum of Art’s dual exhibitions “Elegant Enigmas: the Art of Edward Gorey” and “G is for Gorey–C is for Chicago: The Collection of Thomas Michalak.”
Organized by the Brandywine River Museum, “Elegant Enigmas” features dozens of original drawings, sketches, and costume designs. “G is for Gorey” looks at the man—a Francis W. Parker graduate who studied at the Art Institute—as a commercial artist who never stopped, generating book covers and illustrations for magazines ranging from Harper’s to TV Guide. “He was a freelancer; he had to work,” notes collector Thomas Michalak. “In a letter to Peter Neumeyer, with whom he collaborated on several children’s books, you read how he needs to run out to the bakery to look at muffins because he hasn’t done the drawing he promised Woman’s Day for a story on baked goods. He really was a working artist.” Both exhibits run February 15–June 15 at Loyola University Museum of Art, 820 N. Michigan Ave., 312-915-7600