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Vol. 55 no. 1: Summer 2021

Blake and Exhibitions, 2020

  • Luisa Calè
21 July 2021
21 Jul. 2021


2020 exhibitions placed Blake within artistic traditions of drawing in The Artful Line at the Harris and of wood engraving in Scene through Wood at the Ashmolean. His role within a surrealist genealogy was reinterpreted in British Surrealism at Dulwich Picture Gallery, which took the International Surrealist Exhibition of 1936 as a starting point and measured its impact on British surrealists since then. Facsimiles of his Gray watercolors were the inspiration for contemporary poets in The Bard: William Blake at Flat Time House. While the Tate retrospective reconstructed Blake’s coordinates through a very detailed account of the artisanal, artistic, and commercial communities around him in his several London locations, The Bard rooted Blake in Peckham, reenergizing creative and critical psychogeographic approaches.

Trianon Press facsimiles were put to different uses, prompting reflection on the role of reproduction as a medium that can extend the circulation of Blake and bypassing the conservation restrictions that limit the exposure of works and require intervals between loans, as well as other conditions relating to the loan of originals. As noted, unbound Trianon facsimiles facilitated a dialogue with contemporary poetic practice at Flat Time House. The National Gallery of Canada’s William Blake, 1757–​1827: Illustrated Books used them to juxtapose originals and copies, enabling comparisons between monochrome and color versions and between technologies of print and reproduction, while also documenting the archival practice of complementing originals with reproductions.