"A Mock. A Mock. A Lie."
July 28, 2011 9:29 AM   Subscribe

This Man was Hired to Depress Art This is the opinion of Will Blake my Proofs of this Opinion are given in the following Notes

An alternate compilation of the Reynolds marginalia.
The full text of Reynolds' Seven Discourses on Art, which reproduces much of the body of his Works.
Contextual information on James Barry, John Hamilton Mortimer, and Henry Fuseli.
posted by Iridic (16 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
But ... what is art?

posted by ZenMasterThis at 9:44 AM on July 28, 2011

Ducks are art. I can get behind that.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:47 AM on July 28, 2011

What is art
Oh baby don't hurt me
Don't hurt me no more
posted by kmz at 9:53 AM on July 28, 2011 [4 favorites]

Here's a Robert Hughes piece on 'Sir Sploshua', which touches on the difficulty of conserving his works given their often unusual composition. Sir Joshua, for all his faults, does not come across as particularly detestable; Blake's hatred for the man seems to be rooted much more in Blake's own cantankerous personality than in any quality of Reynold's.
posted by $0up at 9:54 AM on July 28, 2011

I feel like most of what is interesting here may be mainly in the Wiki articles, but the post framing makes it difficult coming at it without knowing anything previous. I, frankly, am not going to read the full Gutenberg book... so dude A) Sir Joshua painted unconventionally and Dude B) Blake, didn't like it and threw a big hissy fit saying dude A was bad for art, is that it in a nutshell?

(and Dudes C, D, and E, are tied to Blake by influence)
posted by edgeways at 10:21 AM on July 28, 2011

Ducks are art.

I have discovered a truly marvelous proof of this, which this margin is too narrow to contain.
posted by chavenet at 10:34 AM on July 28, 2011 [5 favorites]

It was not unknown for the face to fall off a Reynolds portrait if it was shaken.

posted by R. Mutt at 11:21 AM on July 28, 2011

Scabby product and/or shabby process aside, I like his stuff way more than Blake's. So there!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:21 AM on July 28, 2011

When SrJoshua Reynolds died
All Nature was degraded;
The King dropd a tear into the Queens Ear;
And all his Pictures Faded.

posted by R. Mutt at 11:28 AM on July 28, 2011

I'm with Alvy. But then, there are four Reynolds originals hanging just outside my office, so I might be biased.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 11:32 AM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

Granted that Blake was an eccentric and often a crank, taking his annotations at their word suggests that what's at stake in his criticism is the diversity, workmanship, and transmission of English art.

Particularly, he calls out Reynolds's practice as a painter of idealized portraits, and the shadow that practice casts over the education offered by the Royal Academy and the Academy's selections for exhibition: for Blake, it is as if the powers that be declared that the form of art most valuable and illustrative of national character was the soft-focus glamor shot.

Of course, Blake's is a one-sided, hyperbolic take on the problems of state-sponsored art, but it's also a tireless and delightfully personal view of the cosmos (here just the cosmos of visual arts, but elsewhere in Blake, every other part of it).

Personally, I would vastly prefer to read and look at Blake's works (even his annotations) than suffer any more Augustan anything.
posted by Idler King at 12:21 PM on July 28, 2011 [4 favorites]

Blake might have been a strange guy, but his frontispiece for America: A Prophesy seems to capture the current political mood pretty well.
posted by aught at 12:41 PM on July 28, 2011

Ducks are art. I can get behind that.

You and my dad. I don't get the obsession.
posted by aught at 12:43 PM on July 28, 2011

With Idler King here. Rather a chap with angels at the window than one with commissions from a lord. And being a rather roughshod English mystic by inclination, with a suspicion of the tasteful, Billy Blake is talking my language.
posted by Devonian at 3:56 PM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

chavenet: "Ducks are art.

I have discovered a truly marvelous proof of this, which this margin is too narrow to contain.

Sergio Aragones scoffs at this.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 10:48 PM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

Thanks for the post. It made me realize how little I know about Blake and his aesthetics. I need to rectify that. Can anyone recommend a Blake biography?
posted by Kattullus at 2:26 PM on July 29, 2011

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