Visit the William Blake exhibition at Tate Britain
Tate Britain’s latest blockbuster exhibition is dedicated to William Blake (from 11 Sep), the 18th-century creative force who wove his startling stories of darkness and light through painting, printmaking and poetry. If you love drama, you’ll be pleased to discover that Blake’s work is utterly soaked in it.
From towering, muscular gods to tortured underlings screeching in the pits of hell, William Blake dealt in extremes. Tate has collected more than 300 of his artworks for this show, hoping to reintroduce him to the next generation of art lovers.
In an age when strange-looking cats are celebrities, it’s hard to believe that a talent of Blake’s magnitude was largely ignored during his lifetime. He tried to build a reputation with his only significant exhibition in 1809, but it was not a success. That show was held in a room above
a hosiery shop in Soho, which Tate has recreated so that you can experience it for yourself.
If William Blake had realised his potential while he was alive, he would have painted the large frescos that he planned for. In reality, his works The Spiritual Form of Nelson Guiding Leviathan and The Spiritual Form of Pitt Guiding Behemoth were painted on a more humble scale between 1805 and 1809; for William Blake, Tate has projected them on to its gallery walls to the scale that he dreamed of.
Visual artistry is only half of the Blake story – the exhibition also has a section dedicated to his poetry and prints. These include his illustrations for John Bunyan’s epic The Pilgrim’s Progress plus Blake’s own Songs of Innocence and of Experience, which many consider to be the combined creative pinnacle of his art and poetry.
Born in Soho in 1757, Blake grew up on this city’s streets and even studied painting at Piccadilly’s Royal Academy of Arts. He was a true Londoner, so the fact that he’s the star of a major exhibition here more than 200 years later is remarkably special. Welcome home, William Blake.
William Blake at Tate Britain is open until 2 Feb 2020
Adults £18 | Children £5
Millbank, SW1P 4RG
020 7887 8888 | www.tate.org.uk
Next, visit the Antony Gormley exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts, where Blake studied