Joined: 03 Feb 2004
Location: Luton UK
|Posted: Fri Mar 03, 2006 3:44 pm Post subject: Gothic Nightmares at the Tate!!
|Gothic Nightmares at the Tate!!
Gothic Nightmares explores the work of Henry Fuseli (1741–1825) and
William Blake (1757–1827) in the context of the Gothic – the taste for
fantastic and supernatural themes which dominated British culture from
around 1770 to 1830.
Featuring over 120 works by these artists and their contemporaries, the
exhibition creates a vivid image of a period of cultural turmoil and daring
The central exhibit is Henry Fuseli’s famous The Nightmare 1781. Ever
since it was first exhibited to the public in 1782, this picture has been an
icon of horror. Showing a woman supine in her boudoir, oppressed by a
foul imp while a ferocious-looking horse glares on, the painting draws on
folklore and popular culture, medicine, concepts of imagination, and
classical art to create a new kind of highly charged horror image. This is
the most extensive display of Fuseli’s art seen in Britain since 1975 and
includes around sixty of his most important canvases and drawings
including Titania and Bottom c1790, The Three Witches 1783 and The
We embarked on a field trip to the ‘Gloomth’ of Tate Britain’s ‘Gothic
Nightmares’ exhibition earlier in the week. A feast for the eyes for those
who are interested in the ‘Gothic and the Sublime’ art culture and history.
The exhibition runs until the 1st May 2006 and it will set you back about
£7.00 to gain entry.
After initial disappointment that the works of Hieronymus Bosch and the
later works of Jan Toorop would not be featured (The emphasis (brief) of
this exhibition is actually from a world perspective about a time in British
Art History covering the years 1770 to 1830. So you wont find these or
the likes of Edgar Allen Poe or H.P.Lovecraft etc).
We were rewarded however on entering the exhibition by the sight of
Henry Fuseli’s famous The Nightmare. The image has been repeatedly
used in such classics as Jame’s Whales Frankenstein, Ken Russell’s
Gothic, Nosferatu and Buffy the Vampire Slayer etc
And there it was, history on the wall in front of us, we stood transfixed
as we pondered Mr. Fusili’s nightmare.
Note the lady lying on the bed on the Franky ad!
The next few hours were spent wondering through multimillions worth
of ‘Gothic and Sublime’ artwork real-estate, absorbing as much detail as
possible. In a trance like state we went from room to room sometimes
almost gasping at the scale and sheer size of some of the exhibits such
as Fusili’s Titania and Bottom
William Blakes Death on a Pale Horse was also in attendance along with
scores of his other works, that guy had one hell of a warped imagination!
The artist James Gillray, whose satirical caricatures lampooned the
politics of the era caught my eye with an aura of unnerving familiarity
as we made our way to the ‘Phantasmagoria’ (a room with 3 walls and
projected images) that reminded me of the old ghost trains at the
All through the exhibitions there were references to classical literature
such as ‘The Book of Revelations’, Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Milton’s
Paradise Lost, Greek and Biblical mythology etc, it showed how these
great artist’s drew their warped inspirations for their artwork from
classical texts and myths.
It then goes on to highlight the inspiration that some of these great
artworks and artists had on contemporary to the time and later writers
and artists, such as Mary Shelley, Matthew ‘Monk’ Lewis, Angela Carter,
Patrick McGrath etc
Lacking was any reference to Gothic music (I guess I would say that
wouldn’t I!) not that matters really but if Artist’s can influence writers
and vice versa , what about musicians?
Mind you this was the Tate Gallery! I wondered though if there were
any musical compositions created that were inspired by say Fuseli’s
Nightmare within (or without!) that period.
So on the whole Gothic Nightmares is a very inspiring and thought
provoking event, a must for those into Gothic and Sublime culture
Photo taking in the exhibition is not allowed so be warned! We took
our camera and got some nice ‘Neo-Gothic’ shots of the MI5 building
Finally after being 'thrown out' (at closing time of course!) we made our
way along Millbank towards Pimlico and the thronging rush hour hourdes!
Pics by Werewolf, Ella Jo
The Gothic Nightmares home page
This was Ella Jo's treat by the way! Thanks a million!
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