Always One Button Short - The Buttons of Edward Gorey
A master of the mysterious, Edward Gorey's artworks and writings abound with misadventures, oddities, and oblique humor.
His forays into experimental theater follow suit, and to much delight, he designed pin-back buttons to accompany them. Now coveted by collectors, these bespoke buttons—created as souvenirs for the plays, puppet shows, revues, and other "entertainments" that Gorey wrote, designed, or directed—possess a curiosity factor disproportionate to their small size. Flapping Ankles, Inverted Commas, or Tinned Lettuce?
Such buttons and the shows they were based on offer send-ups of staid conventions (idiosyncratic napkin folding, anyone?) or make cryptic suggestions to "Embrace Etceterism." But he didn’t stop there—in his trademark style Gorey both lauded and gently spoofed his beloved New York City Ballet, and even dabbled in a bit of political commentary. With each button Gorey fashioned, he put the wearer at the center of a memory, a recollection of a particular place and time. Buttons (Gorey's especially, with their enigmatic designs) necessitate some form of personal connection— perhaps a laugh or a discussion, but at least an offering from one person to another. Gorey made his buttons as a reminder that one had "been there," had made that connection, and would carry that moment with them—literally and figuratively.
Always One Button Short showcases a selection of Gorey's compact creations, researched and photographed by noted Gorey collector Jonas Ploeger. Kevin McDermott, longtime Gorey collaborator and author of Elephant House; or, The Home of Edward Gorey, introduces the collection with a personal essay, recalling the history and meaning of his own Gorey button.