WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The work of celebrated illustrator and artist Edward Gorey is the newest exhibit to grace the halls of the Norton Museum of Art. Curators believe it will catch the eye of adults and children alike.
If you're not familiar with Gorey, you will understand his signature style immediately after seeing his work up close. In fact, getting close is part of the fun.
The museum has equipped visitors with magnifying glasses along the walls, allowing them to drink in the fine detail of thin quill pen strokes. The tiny detail of wallpaper in a scene, for example, required careful execution.
Gorey created his works in the actual size to what a reader would discover on the page of one of his books.
Gorey, who passed away in 2000 at the age of 75, was also a lover of language and the written word, according to Karin Wilkin, curator, critic and author of three Gorey books. She calls Gorey a "connoisseur" of language.
Gorey, it seems, savored words like handmade candies on the tongue. He selected each word carefully before setting it to permanence on the page, according to Wilkin.
Also a friend of the artist, Wilkin says Gorey had filing cabinets stuffed with projected books that he didn't have the chance to illustrate.
In an age where tweets and Facebook posts can slim phrases to standard four-letter abbreviations, a viewer can appreciate Gorey's linguistic playground which support his drawings with very few, carefully selected words.
Those words and pictures are matched in such a way, Wilkin says, that they force you to fill in the blanks.
There are several surprises for visitors in the exhibit. Miniature, illustrated books no larger than a book of matches sit next to a book that can be read in several directions. Gorey created a deck of story cards, which could be shuffled and read in any order. In another glass case, visitors discover envelopes he illustrated when he sent mail to his mother.
A room of the exhibit beckons visitors to experience the artwork more completely. A large wall allows visitors to become a part of one of Gorey's scenes. Another area allows people to try their hand at the artist's fine drawing skills, with examples of his techniques.
The Gorey works have made their way to several other stops, but Wilkin is impressed by the presentation at the Norton. She calls it a "brilliant and sympathetic installation." She calls the Norton's presentation "most effective."
The exhibition includes pieces from The Gashlycrumb Tinies, The Unstrung Harp, The Doubtful Guest, The Gilded Bat and more.
It opens Friday, June 8, 2012 and will remain until September 2.
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