William Blake, Visionary Rebel
Stern, Fred, The World and I
It happens with greater frequency then you might think. The name of an artist practically disappears from public consciousness, then returns many years later with renewed impact and a sure indication of the artist's staying power.
Such was the case with William Blake (1757-1827). Uniquely gifted in many areas, Blake was not only an outstanding painter, but also a consummate printer, engraver, publisher and one of the most eminent poets England ever produced. But he was also an eccentric whose sense of reality was overshadowed by his mystical visions and unconventional religious beliefs which were revealed in his work. As a result the man lived and died in great poverty.
When you look at Blake's paintings and watercolors you'll readily understand why his art was neglected, dismissed or vigorously rejected throughout his life and for decades thereafter. Colors scream with a flame-like quality. His men and women look like creatures from outer space. And his image of God is that of an old man with bristling looks and muscular arms that further emphasize unreality. Today we call this "outsider art." Today Blake's work is praised from every level of the establishment for both its content and its unique quality of execution.
But Blake's world, after all, was 18th Century Britain. In that time and place, the leading painters produced realistic renderings of historical scenes or battle pictures. Other highly successful artists painted what was the most loved of subject matter: rolling country estates with horses the gentry raced or rode to the hunt. William Blake would have none of that, and he paid the price.
With his appeal as a great …
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Publication information: Article title: William Blake, Visionary Rebel. Contributors: Stern, Fred - Author. Magazine title: The World and I. Volume: 24. Issue: 10 Publication date: October 2009. Page number: Not available. © 1999 News World Communications, Inc. COPYRIGHT 2009 Gale Group.
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