Art: Chatting With The Devil, Dining With Prophets

Seer, bard and oddball, artist-poet William Blake poured his passions into uniquely visionary images

The beautiful survey of prints and drawings by William Blake (1757-1827) on view at New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art through June 24 sets before us an artist who is widely loved but, in a curious way, only narrowly known. Of course, he is the very archetype of the artist-poet: self-taught in most respects, brimming over with lyrical visions and grandiose fantasies. A childhood education that left out his exquisite Songs of Innocence and Experience would be a poor one indeed.

Yet there is something difficult to grasp about Blake: an obsessive personal mythology that is intensely vivid and yet...

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