Thursday, September 12, 2013
Spontaneous Poetics - 134
AG: Has everybody here seen the illustrated colored version of Songs of Innocence and Of Experience? Raise your hands if you have not. How many have not. Well, very few haven't, there is a copy here in the library - Trianon Press, Trianon Press Editions, which has reproductions, I think, of the Lessing J. Rosenwald copy of Songs of Innocence and Experience. Blake originally etched the poems and pictures around them and then hand-colored them with his wife, and then printed about twenty-five copies altogether, and then hand-colored each one. So there's a complete pretty colored reproduction of that entire book here in the library.
Student: Yeah, and if anybody's interested, and from Philadelphia , the original plates are there in the Rosenwald-Lessing edition. Pretty (amazing)
AG: Have you ever been there? I've never been there.
Student: Oh, it's magnificent, its just north of Philadelphia
AG: What's the name of the town?
Student: I guess the town it's in would be either Melrose Park or Jenkintown
AG: Jenkintown. Jenkintown
AG: (The) Lessing-Jay Rosenwald collection.
Student: Right. It's in the Alverthorpe Manor. That's the name of the place where he lives and has his collection. We take students there. [1976 - The Lessing-Jay Rosenwald collection is now part of the Library of Congress and the National Gallery in Washington DC ]
AG: They've got more than (just) the "Innocence and Experience", "Marriage of Heaven and Hell", and...
Student: Oh they have everything
AG: Whatever big city you are (in) you ought to go to a big library and take a look at the original Blake. In New York there are some at the New York Public Library, (and) there are some in the Morgan Library (there are two copies of Songs of Innocence and Experience in the Morgan Library, actually)
Philip Whalen: Isn't there some in Chicago?
AG: There are some in Chicago and there are some in Washington and there are some in LA in the Huntington-Hartford
Student: The Huntington Library
Student: How many of the original.... how many of the original plates still exist?
AG: I'm not sure, actually
Student: He kept using them
AG: There are some, there are some. I think there are some but I don't know how many.
Philip Whalen: The copper plates?
Philip Whalen: still exist?
AG: Yeah, Yeah, some do. I think for "..Job"
Philip Whalen: In the British Museum?
AG: I don't know who has them. You can find out. There's a book which we have here, which is a giant, good-sized, thing, it's about a foot-and-a-half long and two inches thick, which is a reproduction of every single plate and drawing of Blake, and it also gives the provenance, so you can find out what plates exist and where copies of all the books exist. So it's actually interesting to check out, if you're in a big city. London, also - the British Museum has a copy of "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell"
Student: The Tate has his (watercolors)
AG: Yeah, the Tate in London has a huge collection of drawings and paintings, and the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge has "Heaven and Hell' and "Innocence and Experience" and there's a copy of some Blake at Oxford in the Ashmolean Museum. Probably (some) at Harvard.
So, if you're in a big town and you're interested in Blake, just check out what's around. It's a great thing to do. It's better than going to the movies. You actually have the thing he did himself with his own hand, water-colored! - his own vision, his own mind, right there in front of you.
Student: Are there any Blake's in Denver [nearest local town]?
AG: I don't know if there's any in Denver. I don't think so.
Philip Whalen: I was very surprised when I was down in Colorado Springs, that they had one of.. a copy of Brancusi's "Bird in Space" in a tiny museum down there.
Student: Bird In Space?
Philip Whalen: Yeah. To walk in and see a live Brancusi was quite marvelous.
[Brancusi - Bird In Space (1923) - Musee National d'Arte Moderne, Paris]
[Audio for the above is available here, starting at approximately forty-five-and-a-quarter minutes in and through to approximately forty-nine-and-a-quarter minutes in]