On Friday, December 15th, we were thrilled to discover that the exhibition catalog “William Blake and the Age of Aquarius” had been named by The New York Times art critic Holland Cotter as one of his favorite art books of the year. Our text is listed as one of just nine books that Cotter points to as the most vital of 2017.
WILLIAM BLAKE AND THE AGE OF AQUARIUS’ By Stephen F. Eisenman (Block Museum of Art and Princeton University Press). Blake (1757-1827) is in the air these days, as he has been in other culturally inflamed times. In 1948, in a Spanish Harlem apartment, the Beat poet Allen Ginsberg had an auditory hallucination of Blake reciting “Ah Sun-flower!” and other mind-altering verses. That vision changed Ginsberg’s life, and Blake became a touchstone figure for many radical American artists of the 1950s and his destroy-all-tyrants radar continued to burn through the 1960s. It would certainly find appropriate targets today, as is confirmed by this excellent book, the catalog for an exhibition at the Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University, through March 18.