Cape Cod Museum Celebrates 50th Anniversary of Edward Gorey Artwork

The "Gashlycrumb Tinies" started creeping people out half a century ago.

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It’s been 50 years since little Amy fell down the stairs, bears assaulted poor Basil, and 24 of their friends were done away at the hands of artist Edward Gorey. To celebrate what has been called the artists most referenced work, The Gashlycrumb Tinies, a museum dedicated to Gorey’s drawings is hosting an exclusive exhibit.

From now through the winter, the Edward Gorey House museum in Yarmouth Port, Cape Cod, will display “The Vinegar Works: A 50th Anniversary Celebration,” featuring three original volumes of Gorey’s work, including The West Wing, The Insect God, and, of course, The Gashlycrumb Tinies, which over the years has achieved worldwide recognition for the slightly absurd couplets about 26 children being killed in various ways.

Gorey experts say what makes his artwork unique is that it discusses violent scenarios, but doesn’t illustrate them, leaving it up to the reader’s imagination to piece together the aftermath of the couplets created by the author. “The text tells us that events have occurred. However, the accompanying art only sets the stage for the tragedies…we see neither violence nor mayhem…the reader is left to complete the action, filling in the pieces.  Gorey has cast his readers as the villains knowing that we will draw the events of her demise within our own imaginations,” says Edward Bradford and Patrice Miller, in their musings on the “Tinies.”

Take, for example, the letter “P” from Gorey’s alphabet book:



Almost all of the original art for the three stories featured in the exhibit, along with drafts and preliminary sketches, are on loan from The Edward Gorey Charitable Trust. Gorey, who died in 2000 from a heart attack, once called Cape Cod home. When he passed away, that home was transformed into the House museum where the original artwork is now available for public viewing. “The timing of 2013’s exhibit is fortuitous—a number of this year’s show pieces, including some of the signature Tinies characters, are part of a traveling exhibit now on hiatus. The Gorey House exhibit is a rare chance to experience images of all three volumes together, to see Neville who died of ennui in his original pen-and-ink state and to gaze at the…cross-hatching detail for which Gorey’s art is known,” according to museum curators.

More information about the exhibit can be found on the museum’s website. 

You can view the entire Tinies alphabet here.