William Blake and the Age of Aquarius - Exhibition Press: Block Museum - Northwestern University
Skip to main content

William Blake and the Age of Aquarius - Exhibition Press

Media coverage of the exhibition William Blake and the Age of Aquarius running at The Block Museum of Art, September 23, 2017 to March 11, 2018

Clyfford Still Museum
"Blake essentially became an artistic icon for the counterculture, and this could have made him especially appealing to Still. The curators of the Block exhibition seem to think so because they’ve included an early section which focuses on artists, including Still, working in the 1940s 'who discovered Blake’s unique voice in such poems as ‘The Tyger’ and the ‘Shepard’.'"”
January 17, 2018
The Spectator
"Accompanying an exhibition at Northwestern University in Illinois, William Blake and the Age of Aquarius is the most intriguing book on Blake since Marsha Keith Schuchard’s exposé of him as a swinger, Why Mrs Blake Cried (2006). America’s postwar Blakeans rebelled against expensive advertising and contemptible comfort. However misplaced the fury, and despite a preponderance of ‘fashionable Fools’, the results were not all contemptible." -Dominic Green”
Dominic Green, January 13, 2018
Chicago Reader
"If the young Ginsberg found a universe of revolutionary imaginative potential in Blake’s works, the older Ginsberg found a set of reflections on what it means to outlive a revolution. As Blake might put it, the key to both the 1790s and the 1960s is to understand the relationship between Innocence and Experience." -Sam Rowe”
Jason Foumberg, February 8, 2018
Chicago Reader
“Fri 3/9-Sun 3/11: 'William Blake and the Age of Aquarius,' which illustrates the impact the Romantic poet had on American artists—from Allen Ginsberg to Jimi Hendrix—closes after this weekend.” -Rachel Yang ”
Rachel Yang, March 9, 2019
"If you want to know what links the Romantic poet and painter William Blake with the beat poet Allen Ginsberg, the Northwestern Block Museum of Art’s exhibit 'William Blake and the Age of Aquarius' will make sure you’re informed." -Talya Zax”
Talya Zax, March 1, 2018
"This exhibition situated Blake’s work in the context of postwar printing experiments by Stanley William Hayter and Atelier 17, such as 21 Etchings and Poems (1960) with Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, Irene Rice Pereira, Helen Phillips, and Attilio Salemme, and “Fifteen Poems, a Collaboration Using the Printing Methods of William Blake,” involving Alexander Calder and Helen Phillips. A section on the Doors of Perception featured Richard Anuszkiewicz’s Inward Eye serigraph series, as well as posters and other materials documenting the work of Bob Dylan, the Doors, and Jimi Hendrix." -Luisa Calè ”
Luisa Calè, Summer 2018
Pop Matters
"Those unfamiliar with Blake should still be fascinated by how the man's work has drifted through the ages without losing much of its power. No reader of this book will come away from it unmoved and indifferent to the potential of the artistic sensibility as it comes to terms with light, dark, and everything in between."”
Christopher John Stephens, November 27, 2017
Common Dreams
"Blake spoke a complex truth. He embraced a far-flung, wildly loving philosophy of life: 'If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite. For man has closed himself up till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.'” ”
Robert C. Koehler, November 30, 2017
Third Coast Review
"William Blake and the Age of Aquarius shows how Blake’s protests against political and social conventions during his time were an inspiration for many Americans who felt the need to rebel against conformity, believing personal and social transformation was not merely an abstract concept, but something that can be actualized in their lifetime."”
Tom Wawzenek, December 7, 2017
Windy City Times
"Princeton University Press books: The press has a varied assortment of books. Examples include Big Pacific, a companion book to the five-part series on PBS that gives an inside look at the unique sea creatures and ecosystems of the Pacific Ocean; and William Blake and the Age of Aquarius, an intriguing look at how Blake's vision influenced artists of the Beat generation and 1960s counterculture." ”
Andrew Davis, December 5, 2017
New York Times
"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." ”
Holland Cotter, December 15, 2017
Splash Magazines
"Combining expertise from across the University — including contributions from classics, art history, sound design, materials science, medicine, archeology, art history and molecular biology — this groundbreaking installation explores how interdisciplinary partnerships can deliver new insights into ancient mysteries." ”
Barbara Keer, December 22, 2017
Chicago Tribune
"That 18th-century poet Blake has a sort of double occupancy in the local art scene is meaningful but hardly surprising. With Chicago’s history of radical politics, protest and direct action, Blake’s ethereal concepts about liberation seem built into the city." ”
KT Hawbaker, December 20, 2017
"Top 5 Museum and Institutional Shows: Block Museum of Art: William Blake and the Age of Aquarius" ”
Elliot Reichert, December 21, 2017
Streetwise Chicago
"Even casual viewers who do not understand Blake the artist have a visceral view of his images in relation to spreading love, peace or personal spirituality, says Corinne Grano£, curator of academic pro­grams at the Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University, who consulted with curator and Northwestern Professor of Art History Stephen F. Eisenman to produce its current exhibit, "William Blake and the Age of Aquarius."”
Suzanne Hanney
Chicago Reader
"Blake's revival came at a dark moment in U.S. history, between McCarthyism sweeping away homosexuals and communists and Vietnam war protests reaching a fever pitch. Wielding Blake as a cultural weapon meant one had the power to ask, What is the political dimension of the imagination?"”
Jason Foumberg, October 4, 2017
Chicago Magazine
"You can find the ideas of the summer of love in Blake almost 200 years earlier—peace, love, rejection of oppressive individualism, rejection of war, rejection of hyper rationalism, legalism, the military industrial complex." -Stephen Eisenman in conversation with Christian Belanger”
October 5, 2017
Michael J. Kramer
"Refusing to be pinned down to any conventional ideology or political position—Hendrix variously resisted being narrowed down to a Black Panther, New Leftist, former Army paratrooper, guitar-god, a hippie utopian, or any other recognizable position—he instead fingered the limits of freedom, its jagged edges of distortion and electricity."”
Michael J. Kramer, October 5, 2017
Daily Northwestern
"The event, titled 'Love and Then Some: 1960s Protest and Liberation, Civil and Human Rights,' built on the ideas of social transformation highlighted in the museum’s current exhibition, 'William Blake and the Age of Aquarius.' Four Northwestern faculty members presented on revolutions in the 1960s and their effects on the political and cultural climate of the time." ”
Samantha Handler, October 5, 2017
The Daily Northwestern
In this episode of The Weekly, The Daily attends the Block Museum’s panel on artist William Blake’s work and how it relates to activism in the 1960s.”
October 6, 2017
50th Summer of Love
"It would be another seven years before Ginsberg wrote in his towering poem 'Howl': 'Holy, Holy, Holy . . . Everything is holy! Everybody’s holy! Everywhere is holy! The madman is holy as you my soul are holy . . . Holy the supernatural extra brilliant intelligent kindness of the soul!' Blake’s words were lighting fires across time."”
Jason Foumberg, October 9, 2017
"This erudite Summer of Love golden-anniversary exhibition places the Beat-generation muse, proto-hippie, politically radical poet-engraver, and generally unclassifiable William Blake in the context of twentieth-century American art and popular culture. Exuberance is beauty!"”
J. Hoberman, September 2017
Time Out Chicago
"Though he died in the 1800s, the work of English poet and painter Blake took on new significance when it was embraced by artists associated with 1967's Summer of Love. The Block collects groovy post-World War II works inspired by his prose, as well as a selection of Blake prints and illuminated books."”
September, 2017
Chicago Sun-Times
"Artistic and cultural influences come from sometimes surprising places. So, it was with William Blake (1757-1827), an unconventional English poet, painter and printmaker, who turned out to be a powerful source of inspiration for the counter-culture artists, poets and musicians during San Francisco’s Summer of Love in 1967."”
September 14, 2017
Splash Magazines
"The exhibition 'William Blake and the Age of Aquarius' will be complemented by a variety of engagement programs throughout Fall 2017 and Winter 2018, which use the exhibition as a springboard to explore Blake’s continued contemporary influence, the relationship between image and text, and the resonance of the art and politics of Blake’s work."”
Debra Davy, September 19, 2017
Chicago Magazine
"For years, Blake was just another genius artist who died in obscurity. But during the Summer of Love in 1967, the work of the 19th-century mystic, printmaker, and poet was adopted as hippie credo. In the first exhibit of its kind, Blake’s psychedelic artwork and poetry are paired with works by those they inspired: Jimi Hendrix, Diane Arbus, Allen Ginsberg, Agnes Martin, and more."”
September 20, 2017
Art Daily
"The Wilson Fund will endow the leadership position of the Block Museum engagement department, which oversees museum-wide education, programming, partnerships and communication efforts."”
September 30, 2017
Star Tribune
"The on-campus Block Museum of Art showcases global and contemporary art. Currently open, 'William Blake and the Age of Aquarius' juxtaposes the 1960s’ spectacular social discord with the fey English Romantic Blake’s visionary artwork. It sounds like the best anniversary commemoration of the Summer of Love yet."”
Aaron Gettinger, October 13, 2017
Newcity Art
"This is a bountiful and thoughtful show and a true labor of love by its curator."”
Chris Miller, October 19, 2017
The Daily Northwestern
"'We are honored by (the Wilsons’) recognition of the Block Museum as a site of innovative teaching and learning experiences for both our students and our community,' Block director Lisa Corrin said in the release. 'This visionary gift will help ensure meaningful engagement with art through partnerships and will expand the reach and impact of our programming.'" ”
Maddie Burakoff, September 25, 2017
New Art Examiner
"Blake’s authentic mysticism as a visionary and spiritualist will always lie beyond the knowledge or grasp of most people. He proposed total equality between races and sexes. These traits of course made him a near-perfect avatar for postwar non-conformists and dissidents, who used him as validation of a generation’s hunger for escapism to a more enlightened, moral and pacifist path." ”
Bruce Thorn, October 2017
The Allen Ginsberg Project
"The exhibition, curated by Northwestern University art professor, Stephen F Eisenman, is a breakthrough exhibit, exploring, for the first time, 'the impact of British visionary poet and artist William Blake on a broad range of American artists in the post-World War II period' (notablly, but by no means confined to, Allen Ginsberg and fellow members of the Beat Generation – Allen as promoter and propagandist, conduit and curator, of Blake’s continuingly advancing reputation)."”
September 29, 2017
"I think we’re kind of in a good moment where Blake needs to be revived, we need examples of cultural figures who could stand up and resist the authority and power of their times. And we need cultural models of people like Blake who celebrated people regardless of their religion, their race, their color, their national origin. He, one of his lines of poetry he says that 'whether you be Christian, Turk'—he meant Muslim—or Jew 'if you have peace, love and pity in your heart, then you are someone to be loved.'””
September 28, 2017
NS Magazine
"'Blake is someone who believed that the most important thing people can do is to create a society based upon love and genuine human need.' [exhibition curator Stephen Eisenman] says. 'In an age of growing inequality like ours, Blake's in a voice that needs to be heard.'" ”
Kerrie Kennedy, September 2017
Time Out Chicago
"Sept 23–Mar 11: The Block Museum celebrates the lasting influence of poet and painter William Blake, displaying ‘60s art inspired by his work in 'Age of Aquarius.'"”
Grace Perry, August 24, 2017
Blouin Art Info
"The exhibition brings together artists who used Blake’s lyrics as titles, experimented with printing techniques and innovative combinations of image and text and cited Blake's worldview in letters, diaries and essays. The exhibition will feature American artists for whom Blake was an important inspiration and will include more than 130 paintings, prints, drawings, photographs, films, and posters, as well as original Blake prints and illuminated books from collections throughout the United States."”
July 7, 2017
Northwestern Now
"Northwestern University scholars will be among a great many revelers flocking to San Francisco this summer to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love. Three prominent Northwestern scholars will be among several dozen historians and journalism, arts and gender studies experts from around the country to offer lectures and discussion on a wide range of topics, from the Beats to hippies, the Black Panthers, the media, music and more."”
Erin Karter, June 28, 2017
Hell's Printing Press
“William Blake and the Age of Aquarius will explore the impact of Blake on a broad range of American artists and will be the first exhibition to consider how Blake’s art and ideas were absorbed and filtered through American visual artists from the end of World War II through the 1960s. Blake became for many a model of non-conformity and self-expression, and was seen as an artist who engaged in social and political resistance in his time. The exhibition will consider parallels between Blake’s time and mid-twentieth-century America, touching on such issues as political repression, social transformation, and struggles for civil rights." -Curator Corinne Granof in dialogue with Sarah Jones”
April 26, 2017