Goreyography reviews

Dressed to Kill,
Edward Gorey and the Social Fabric

The 2023 Exhibit at the EDWARD GOREY HOUSE

What Would Alison Lurie Think?

exhibition program

13 pages
8.5 x 5.5 inches
Stiff wrappers
available at the
Edward Gorey House

Reviewed by Glen Emil,
Ausgust 2023

12 August 2023      Special to Goreyography

Premeditated, deliberate and without remorse. Dressing to Kill is never accidental, apologies are never offered, or expected. It is done with relish, as it should, and all who are witness to the evening's 'kill' may gleam in approval, give an affirmative nod, whisper, even applaud, deep within. Unless of course, someone ends up dying.

'The Cut Direct' Foul Play Press, 1979 edition

Two consistent traits in Edward Gorey's art and story are fancy dress and a murder mystery. Dressing to kill, being dressed to kill, seem literally hand-in-hand and mostly interchangeable. Gorey's earliest works, from 'The Unstrung Harp's' first pages, his Mr. Earbrass curiously overdressed, reflects a pret-a-porter dress code of turn of the 'last' century British and New England attire. Gorey non-too-gently prods Dress & Fashion into the limelight as a character, setting the stage for the conflicts and clashes of class distinctions and attitudes. High and Low come together, often to unfortunate endings.

Though obvious to the well-read Gorey fan, 'Dressed to Kill' as a concept is well-crystallized in Gorey's pen and ink world. This exhibition strives to open a gateway to a newer appreciation, kindling discussion and thought about the mystery and romance of the past, and how mode of dress always plays a part (consider if Gorey had chosen to dress all of his same characters in jeans, tee shirts and track suits [think the Milwaukee Monster Jeffrey Dahmer], where would the irony, and entertainment, lie?). It's no wonder that every year the film and stage industry recognizes costume design.

This in mind, the curators of the House's 2023 season exhibition presents not only 'Dressed to Kill' the show, but added 'Edward Gorey and the Social Fabric'. This thought-provoking part of the guide provides us material for perspective. For this reason, the exhibition program is indispensible. It helps tie a firm knot around the original artworks on display, and the society Gorey inhabited in his early, formative years. If possible, read the entire program booklet first, then begin your tour of the House.

There's a revealing case with several illustrations from Gorey's 'Le Melange Funeste', [1981]. Those who've tried to imagine how Gorey would have created this puzzling and inexplicable cut-apart book can see how it was done.

This year's exhibition, Dressed to Kill: Edward Gorey and the Social Fabric' invites a deeper exploration, and I for one, applaud it's effort. Highly recommended.

Go, before the weather dictates warm clothes.

Glen Emil,
Aug 2023

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