Exhibition: A Grand Review


April 13th

2001 N 13th St, Philadelphia, PA 19122


William Blake presents A Grand Review. This is the artist’s thesis exhibition for his Master's degree at the Tyler School of Art.

Blake's recent paintings depict scenes from American Civil War reenactments which he has been a participant in for over 17 years.   He currently interprets the artist-correspondent Winslow Homer at these battle reenactments where he immerses himself in the materiality of his own obsession by constructing period clothes, camping on battlefields, and documenting the reenactment similar to Homer’s documentation of the authentic war.

Some of Blake’s life-sized portraits reference Winslow Homer’s croquet paintings created during and soon after the Civil War.  For Blake, Homer’s croquet paintings show a relationship between play and tragedy that expresses the War’s lack of closure. To echo this relationship, his paintings depict individuals who play through that war, via war reenactment, renewing the gestures of a national trauma.  They gesture with respect and the desire to educate, to humble, and to play. The unresolved issues of the war are seen far beyond the faux-battlefields. Yet, they are made reflective through the gestures of reenactors, who not only navigate the gender and racial roles within reenactment but the physical liveness of the war itself. The paintings in this exhibition encourage a review of our history and aid in it's continuous revision.

View of the 1865 Grand Review of the Armies balcony