Intriguingly, explanations for the mounting popularity of Gorey’s art rarely touch on its air of hidden, maybe even unknowable meaning. Whatever Gorey’s work appears to be about, it’s forever insinuating, in its poker-faced way, that it’s really, truly about something else. The philosopher Jacques Derrida might have said it is this very elusiveness — the sense that meaning can never be pinned down by language — that is Gorey’s overarching point.
For his part, Gorey, who rolled his eyes at anyone looking for deep meaning in his work, would doubtless have groaned (theatrically) at any attempt to make intellectual sense of his posthumous popularity.
As he liked to say, “When people are finding meaning in things — beware.”