In “The Discourses of Art,” Sir Joshua Reynold writes, “a mere copier of nature can never produce anything great,” also adding that “instead of endeavoring to amuse mankind with the minute neatness of his imitations, he must endeavor to improve by the grandeur of his ideas” (41-42). His take on art reflects his strong ideology that not only focuses and zones in on the divine uniqueness of art itself, but also on the necessity of the artist being in a divine position themselves. The graffiti inscribed on William Blake’s “The Lacoon” makes a bold, yet purposefully subtle stance on Reynold’s position of art. Where Reynold’s thrives off the idea of dominating world perspectives and his role as what many described him at the time- “a poetic genius”, Blake begs to differ.

In Lacoon, Blake encrypts the message “Israel delivered from Egypt is Art delivered from Nature & Imitation,” a statement filled with booming contrasts against Reynolds that promotes the idea that the element of true artistic genius not only makes a means to understand nature but also makes the point to question it, challenge it and imitate its’ essence in order to create powerful art that can move and influence the world (352). Blake is embodies a position on art that is positive enough to understand the magic of art, yet real enough to understand that everything imitates everything. Blake centers in on the idea that it is not a matter of imitating or not, for as human beings, we imitate what we see, feel, and experience. His encryption argues instead that because life imitates life and because art is delivered from imitation, it is our duty to artists, thinkers, and civilians to add meaning and identity for the future to receive. Blake is well known for his projections about the future and it is because of this, we know he had a deep understanding that history repeats itself. Thus, the only thing the artist can do is be conscious about such repetition, challenge it, and make powerful, moving art.

-Angelica Costilla