Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Edward Gorey: In Praise of Cheesy Prose

The world of illustration art is full of mysteries. An illustration is commissioned for a specific editorial purpose, say to enhance an article or a short story. It is accepted or rejected, kept as is or modified, and either published or not published. Years later the original artwork may turn up devoid of any context and leave us to ponder what must have been its original intention. Some illustrators annotate their artwork with scrupulous publication histories. Others do not.

Take this drawing by Edward Gorey. It depicts a writer sitting inside a cheese wheel setting pen to paper on a moonlit night. We are told that it may have been published in the New York Times. It is at once atmospheric and absurd. What exactly is going on? Is this meant to illustrate a meditation on the preposterous difficulty of writing about cheese, a challenge akin to the more well-known task of writing discerningly about wine? Is it about ready-made snacking during the creative process? Surely it cannot be, as my attention-grabbing title glibly suggests, about writing "cheesy" prose.

It's been five years since this drawing was auctioned at Illustration House and possibly we may never know what it's all about. But it's also possible that someone reading this will recognize the piece and step forward to solve the whole mystery.

I'm patiently waiting....

Edward Gorey, writer inside giant cheese wheel, Illustration House

Illustration House
December 8, 2007
Lot 49Edward GoreyGavel=$1,900. +15%=$2,185.


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