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16.10.09

Fall, Blake, the Rococo, and Puccini @ the Morgan

I can't help myself, try as I might, the to-do list grows and I've got my head in the leaves. The amazing fall color that is on display in the state of Vermont will end soon, and I'll wipe my nose prints off the window and get some painting done and hopefully a few regular blog posts.

William Blake never had this problem: he would have been frantically drawing away and would have produced reams of poetry and engravings. At least that's the thought I came away with from the Morgan Museum and Library's exhibit William Blake's World: "A New Heaven Has Begun".


This poet, maniacal sketcher, and master engraver was a visionary in style and theme, shown in works drawn entirely from the Morgan's collection. Blake produced some of the most memorable book imagery, always pushing the limitations of the painstaking technology of his time, one engraved plate at a time, monotypes or hand coloring when necessary. He was brilliant.

Included in this exhibit are twenty-one pen and ink and watercolor drawings from The Book of Job, Milton's L'Allegro and Il Penseroso, and his Continental Prophecies series America: A Prophecy. Blake was fascinated by the idea of America and the revolution, a treasonous act that he never shied from.

With revolution in mind just across the hall from Blake, life was truly wonderful - before the crash. Rococo and Revolution: Eighteenth-Century French Drawings brings together my favorite artists of good times and playful obliviousness, Watteau, Boucher, and of course Fragonard, before Jacques-Louis David went and got all serious.

Absolutely stunning, some of the most impressive work ever with simple chalk on paper and as with the Blake exhibit, all from the Morgan collection. As a somewhat (OK, very) jaded art viewer I got goose bumps studying the subtle, elegant lines of Watteau's Seated Young Woman.

For the music followers of this site, there is also Celebrating Puccini, an exhibit in honor of the 150th anniversary of Giacomo Puccini's birth. On view are sketches for his operas Madama Butterfly and La Bohème, first edition librettos, letters concerning his falling out with Toscanini, posters, and playbills.

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