Trannies, Amputees and Disco Queens: Blake and Contemporary Queer Art
Blake’s influence on post-war artists in Britain and North America often makes for surprising encounters. Where we might expect to find some indi- cation of his impact is with those artists who, in some shape or form, engage with the human figure, which is at the centre of Blake’s paint- ing— his ‘human form divine’. Thus the fact that Anthony Gormley, for example, cites the life mask of Blake in the National Gallery as one of the sources behind his moulded human forms (Hutchinson et al. 1995, 44) - whether represented as expanded hollow forms (such as the lead body-case works of the 1980s and 1990s) or as solid blocks (Critical Mass, 1995) - is hardly surprising; nor, likewise, is the central role played by Blake in Christopher Bucklow’s art, such as the abstract figurative ideograms in the exhibition ‘I Will Save Your Life’ (2004). More surprising is the role played by Blake in the art of Chris Ofili, for example, his 1995 paintings Satan and Seven Bitches Tossing their Pussies before the Divine Dung, both of which were directly inspired by Blake paintings, Satan in all his Original Glory (c.1805) and The Four and Twenty Elders Casting their Crowns before the Divine Throne (c. 1803–5), and which form part of what Lisa Corrin describes as a series of playful dialogues with artists such as Blake, Picabia and Mike Kelley (1998, 16).
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