A review of The Abecedarium of the Artist’s Death by Moussa Kone

Reviewed by P.P.O. Kane

The Abecedarium of the Artist’s Death
By Moussa Kone
Verlag für moderne Kunst, 2014
ISBN: 9783869845272

Yes, I know what you are wondering. My best guess is that the word is pronounced ‘ABC-darium’, with the book – which is nicely designed, by the way, kind of like an index file – consisting of drawings of 26 artists and a summary of the various fates, deaths real and metaphorical, that befall them. In our opening drawing, we make the acquaintance of Anna (‘A is for Anna who was struck by her work…’) and we close by saying farewell to Zacharias. You get the picture: the alphabet acts as an organising principle.

At the end Moussa Kone describes her book as a homage to Edward Gorey and it owes most perhaps to The Gashlycrum Tinies (tales of 26 tiny tots’ tragic terminations). Kone’s drawings are beautifully composed and are not without a healthy dollop of black humour (e.g. ‘I is for Ingrid who trusted her friends…’) but for the most part they are quirky and amusing rather than disquieting, as is almost always the case with Gorey. They will raise a wry smile, certainly, but they won’t put you on edge as Gorey’s drawings are wont to do.

As a small aside, let me correct a statement made by Alexander Theroux in his otherwise excellent monograph, The Strange Case of Edward Gorey. In his discussion of The Loathsome Couple, a book inspired by Ian Brady and Myra Hindley’s depraved crimes, Theroux states that the Moors Murders occurred in Yorkshire. Not so, I am afraid, as those of us who live in this part of the world know only too well. The bodies of the children killed by Brady and Hindley were buried on Saddleworth Moor, not the Yorkshire Moors. And The Moors Murderers, rotten as they were, were Manchester-made.

Moussa Kone’s website is here.

About the reviewer: P.P.O. Kane lives and works in Manchester, England. He welcomes responses to his reviews and you can reach him at ludic@europe.com He blogs at: