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Elegant Enigmas: The Art of Edward Gorey Hardcover – March 1, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 123 pages
  • Publisher: Pomegranate Communications; 1St Edition edition (March 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0764948040
  • ISBN-13: 978-0764948046
  • Product Dimensions: 10.7 x 8.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #67,091 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

*Learn how Edward Gorey was influenced by George Balanchine and Louis Feuillade.
*See sketches for Gorey's costumes and backdrops for The Mikado.
*Revel in the marvelous illuminated envelopes the budding artist sent to his mother.

About the Author

Karen Wilkin, a curator and critic specializing in twentieth-century modernism, is the co-author of The World of Edward Gorey (Abrams, 1996) and the author of Ascending Peculiarity: Edward Gorey on Edward Gorey (Harcourt, 2001), as well as monographs on Anthony Caro, Stuart Davis, Hans Hofmann, Helen Frankenthaler, Giorgio Morandi, and David Smith. She is a regular contributor to The New Criterion, Art in America, and The Wall Street Journal, and a contributing editor for art for The Hudson Review.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
5 star
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See all 17 customer reviews
This is a beautifully illustrated book which showcases his talent.
Stan57
If you are a fan you have to have this book, although if you're a fan you probably have all the original books and have already have all the art work included.
M. Jackson
The art of Edward Gorey is wonderfully displayed and presented in this rare edition.
Thom Tex

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Glen Emil on March 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Karen Wilkin, the Brandywine River Museum and Pomegranate team up to bring us 'Elegant Enigmas: the Art of Edward Gorey'. It's a good-size hardcover book, doubling as catalog and checklist for the exhibition by the same name being held at the Brandywine River Museum in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania this year. The museum is famous for its art collection and association with several Wyeth families: notably N.C., Andrew, Jamie and Carolyn. With Andrew Wyeth's recent passing last January, there seems to be a stronger interest in American art, and the Wyeth's work may be a good contrast to the draftsmanly pen & inks of Goreys. Like the book, this review precedes the exhibition, which runs from March 21 thru May 17 2009.

In 'Elegant Enigmas', Wilkin presents an essay in the beginning of the book entitled 'Mildly Unsettled' -- Gorey is quoted as using the term to describe his own persona and his work. 'Mildly Unsettled' has a some biographical information, but focuses largely on Gorey's output in relation to possible influences. Nearly everything is covered - art, literature, movies - silent and non-s, and cats. This essay isn't as in depth as Wilkin's previous work in The World of Edward Gorey (Abrams, 1996), but it does have a broader perspective. And maybe less implied cause and effect. It was good to go back and forth between the two books, as years and later works brought new subject matter to assimilate.

The collection of plates representing the artwork shown in the exhibit is very nicely done. Extra attention to the finest details in Gorey's artwork is evident; gradations are preserved, and not a line is lost.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Sid Wagner on June 12, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Elegant Enigmas" catalogs the contents of a traveling Gorey exhibit from a few years ago. The book is heavy on original art reproduction and slim on any new biographical content (slim, that is, if you have read "Ascending Peculiarity").

With the name Pomegranate affixed as publisher, you know you will be presented with high quality printing, and an overall well-made book. Image selections from Gorey's well-known works (such as Doubtful Guest, Hapless Child, Willowdale Handcar, Gilded Bat, Deranged Cousins, etc.) look BETTER in this book (with thick semi-gloss paper) than in the Amphigorey collections (standard thinner paper). There's also a number of color images, including rare designs for a 1983 Mikado production. Reproductions of envelopes Gorey sent to his mother, drawn while he was attending Harvard. And the most interesting inclusion of all: drafts for book ideas. Draft of a Blue Aspic image. Alternate covers for Fatal Lozenge and Object-Lesson.

Buy it for the art and the behind-the-scenes drafts.

If you are looking for a lot of biography material, you're probably better off with "Ascending Pecularity". (NOTE: Pomegranate's "Floating Worlds: The Letters of Edward Gorey and Peter F. Neumeyer" is also an excellent, excellent work. If you read the Letters book, you'll feel like you had a chance to visit with the man himself.)
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Kathleen Sicard on November 28, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I've been a Gorey fan since I first sat transfixed as a child by the opening credits of "Mystery" on PBS, and while I've poured over many of his little books, and his Amphigoreys, I've never had a good context in which to view his work. Karen Wilkin's insightful essay peels back the curtain and lets us see into Gorey's world. He was complex, and certainly did not want to be labeled or fit into any neat categorization people would like to put him, or his work, into. This book has really fleshed out my understanding of the man and his art. I never knew what a breadth of references he drew from, or how much I was missing. I love the background given to some of his more popular work, along with the chance to glimpse more private pieces that you normally would never get a chance to see. The hand-drawn envelopes he sent his mother when he was in school were simply marvelous. This book is terrific for anyone who wants to delve a little deeper into the mind of the man who has inspired so many. While I've been perfectly content to view his work at face value for all these years, I will certainly have a deeper appreciation for them now.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Lucas Goldstein on April 8, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Labels are given to people all the time. Accolades like “genius,”"master,” and “virtuoso” are thrown around at times like rice at a wedding, but there are occasions when the literary title rings true. It speaks out loud not only as one word, but the subtext and meaning speaks volumes about the recipient. That perfectly describes Edward Gorey and the oft attributed claim, “enigma.”

'Elegant Enigmas: The Art of Edward Gorey' is not only a wonderful volume for the Gorey fan to add to their collection, but it is also a companion catalog for the first major traveling museum exhibition of Gorey’s work. Inside is a number of reproductions covering the span and breadth of Edward Gorey’s career. Prefacing the artwork is an essay by Karen Wilkin, who is an art historian, author and Edward Gorey scholar.

The book itself should first be given credit for being a work of art in itself. Pomegranate, the publisher, pulled out the stops in creating this beautiful volume. On the front, underneath the dust jacket, you find branded into the lower right corner the image of one of Gorey’s sullen and lonely child characters, walking away and looking back over his shoulder. It immediately captures the odd mixture of cute and bleak that hovers inside much of his work.

I also feel the need to mention the binding because the first moment I held it in my hands it reminded me of those Time/Life editions that used to be sold on TV and door to door (we had the Fantasy series and Ghosts/Aliens series when I was growing up). Even the quality and weight of the paper chosen is cognizant and respectful to the cherished art being displayed inside.

The more casual fan of Edward Gorey will be thrilled to learn so many new and wonderful parts of his career.
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