Visions of ‘lunatic’ poet exposed

Neither his Songs of Innocence, nor Songs of Experience helped him emerge from dire poverty and heavy debt. Britain’s genius visionary William Blake had only one exhibition during his lifetime. It is now Russia’s turn to pay tribute to the artist.

­One of the most unconventional and trailblazing English poets and painters will finally be feted in the first major exhibition of his work at Moscow’s landmark Pushkin State Museum of Fine Art.

Considered one of the most complex writers to date, Blake’s unique vision of civilization with the recurrent topic of spiritual paradigms, and views on the Marriage of Heaven and Hell made fellow critics describe him as “an unfortunate lunatic, whose personal inoffensiveness secures him from confinement”.

Blake claimed he experienced visions throughout his life, which perhaps contributed to the rich symbolism and mythological quality of his works.

The display is a joint project between the Tate and the Pushkin Museum, in partnership with the British Council.

Mainly featuring masterpieces from Tate’s Collection, the exhibition consists of over a hundred works, including one of Blake’s best-known paintings The Ghost of a Flea, as well as recently discovered hand-colored etchings from The First Book of Urizen.

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