December 16th, 1970 marked the premiere of Rod Serling’s second most famous anthology series, Night Gallery. Unlike its predecessor, Night Gallery seems to have received a mixed reception, with many Twilight Zone fans left wanting by the series’ overall less substantive writing and the inclusion of some off the wall comedic segments.
However, the paintings and sculptures featured in the gallery and as introductions to the myriad segments have always been the eye-catching, attention-grabbing heart of the show. Now, 50 years since the birth of the series and for the first time ever, those paintings have been collected into a single high-quality volume. Enter Night Gallery: The Art of Darkness, a book two and a half decades in the making which includes not only high-quality images of every painting on the show digitally color corrected by the artist; but brief histories and segment synopses by the leading historians of the Night Gallery and introductions by Anne Serling and Guillermo del Toro.
Full disclosure: prior to reading Night Gallery: The Art of Darkness I was completely unfamiliar with the show. I imagine that won’t be a unique admission, given that Night Gallery was hacked apart for syndication and is rarely if ever replayed (although it is also about twice my age and that’s definitely a factor). I share this because it’s important to understand the value of the art contained in the book even without the original context– having never seen Night Gallery, I still found the art incredibly compelling and often inspiring. So much so that I’ve now, since reading The Art of Darkness, watched about a third of the entire show.
This book is incredible and I cannot say enough positive things about it. Series historians Jim Benson and Scott Skelton are informative without being dull. They’ve included a quick history of the show and an overview of artist Tom Wright’s process for creating the hundreds of pieces that called the gallery home before presenting and discussing each piece individually. Every entry includes Rod Serling’s introduction to the segment and author commentary on the piece, often including the thoughts of the artist himself. It’s a unique opportunity to so deeply examine an artist’s work and a perfect tribute to the source material which elevates the entire experience of Rod Serling’s Night Gallery.
Let’s address the elephant in the room– Night Gallery: The Art of Darkness is not a cheap book. In fact, many readers will find the $75 price tag for a softcover copy prohibitive, but in this case, it’s important to understand what went into the book to reach that price tag. The time and money dedicated to sourcing these pieces, traveling to private collections and galleries to photograph them, then compiling every single painting with descriptions of their segments as well as corrections and commentary by the artist is frankly mind-boggling. It’s clear that this is a passion project for all involved, who have spent decades making this idea a reality. That’s before considering that the book is over 300 pages, full color, and printed on archival quality paper.
In the future I’d love to see a digital copy of the book in order to grant as many people access to high-quality copies of the paintings as possible, but for now please keep in mind that the price tag is high to accommodate the project. After all, if the authors were charging an arm and a leg with the intention to get rich, they probably wouldn’t be creating a high-quality collector volume about Night Gallery.
Based on the quality of the art alone Night Gallery: The Art of Darkness is perfect. If you’re a fan of the horror anthology format or horror-inspired art (and if you’re here, I should hope you fall into one of those categories) there will be plenty here for you. If like me, you aren’t acquainted with Night Gallery prior to checking out this book, there’s a high likelihood you’ll have discovered a new favorite and a true hidden gem.
10 out of 10 Acrylics on Masonite