Idiosyncracy, Innovation, Outrage in William Blake’s Art



Year of publication 2018
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description The relationship between society, art, and its reception has always been a complicated one. Different kinds of innovation, whether in connection to literature, music, theatre, or visual arts, often invite critical responses as well as expressions of praise. In this respect, William Blake, a generally known and recognised English poet of the Romantic Age, is noteworthy for his atypical political views and stances, and he has, over the last two centuries, been increasingly appreciated as a non-conformist, a radical, an autodidact, a decided individualist, and a sexual rebel. However it is not possible to reduce his sphere of interest and his work only to poetry or generally literature. William Blake, apart from being a canonical author, is also a recognised visual artist, particularly engraver, painter and colourist. He is also indisputably regarded a graphic designer, calligrapher, printmaker and the inventor of the illuminated printing method. In the scholarly area William Blake always offers a promising figure for study, particularly given the complexity and range of his textual and pictorial works. Moreover, the recognized difficulty inherent to those works—a difficulty that has often resulted in scholarly disagreements as well as numerous mistreatments, manipulations, and misinterpretations cluster around Blake’s unusually provocative explorations of (transgressive) sensual experience, explorations that appeared provocative during Blake’s own time and often remain so today. To properly account for the various aspects of his distinctive philosophy, prophetic visions, and religious issues, Blake needs not only to be understood as a historical personage but also as a writer who remains topical and deserving of re-interpretation in our own contemporary period. Blake’s art and its analysis would necessarily have an interdisciplinary character, especially in regard to poetical and visual expression and to the relationship between literature and art in general. The paper focuses on Blake’s innovative and idiosyncratic approach to art, which has been, similarly to La Tosca in its own time, considered ambiguous and enigmatic, and regardless Blake’s aesthetic goals and authorial intentions polarised Blake’s intellectual milieu as well as our own era.
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