01 September 2010

For art's sake

Well, kiddles, it's September, and because it's so (and it's weirdly cooler today, too; I don't know how they do that), it's time for some lurnin'. Today's subject: the 20th-century artist Leonard Baskin. Baskin (1922-2000) was a prolific American artist, a painter, sculptor, and print-maker whose work appears in the collections of important museums and galleries. Prints he made from his etchings, lithography, and woodcuts. One of those etchings, of William Blake (1963), now hangs in my home.

Because people like me, that's why. Though it's not an easy piece to look at, is it? I first wanted to hang it in the dining room, but reason intervened: the soup course might not go down so well with that face staring back at you. And yet, I love it, and was immediately reminded of Blake's poem, Mad Song:
The wild winds weep,
And the night is a-cold;
Come hither, Sleep,
And my griefs enfold! . . .
But lo! the morning peeps
Over the eastern steeps,
And the rustling beds of dawn
The earth do scorn.
Lo! to the vault
Of pav├Ęd heaven,
With sorrow fraught,
My notes are driven:
They strike the ear of Night,
Make weak the eyes of Day;
They make mad the roaring winds,
And with the tempests play,
Like a fiend in a cloud,
With howling woe
After night I do crowd
And with night will go;
I turn my back to the east
From whence comforts have increased;
For light doth seize my brain
With frantic pain.
Perfect, then, to hang it over the daybed anchoring my little reading nook, where I expect to spend much time as the weather turns cooler, nestled among quilts and books and Blake's fiendish visage reminding me to get some actual work done, or else.

Thank you, HB, for the privilege of hanging Baskin's work in my home. I'll aim to be a good steward of it.


  1. I was reminded of the serial killer in Thomas Harris's novel Red Dragon that has a Blake painting tatooed on his back and chews the lips of that one guy...yeah, definitely not dinner table.

  2. Now I understand why we see the Uptown Art Fair in totally different ways.


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