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Long after his death in 1764, William Hogarth is still our contemporary. Far from leading a secluded existence in museums and academies, his legacy of vibrant images and provocative ideas remains a powerful source of inventiveness and inspiration for the artists of today, as once for those of yesterday, be it on page, stage, canvas or digital formats.
After approaching the artist by way of his challenging aesthetic philosophy and his resistance to normative categories, this two-book set considers Hogarth’s pioneering sense of performativity, which has long made him the treasured interlocutor of actors and playwrights, from David Garrick to Bertolt Brecht or Nick Dear. While his conversations with film, television, graphic novel and modern art bear witness to the artist’s radical and almost prophetic use of iconography, the world of the novel, British and European, reveals unexpected areas of cross-pollination, whose effects prove particularly remarkable in the modernist age and indeed the present times. Brimming as it is with energy, plenty, affliction, entropy and empathy, Hogarth’s contradictory universe of chaos and beauty is in tune with ours and resonates vividly with contemporary passions and struggles.
The twenty-eight essays in this collection chart the teeming legacies of William Hogarth and explore the ways in which his works and ideas were and are revisited and appropriated in the UK and across Europe. For the eighteenth-century artist lives on as an unforgotten presence, whose invigorating and challenging memory energizes multiple expressive forms, including drama, visual arts, literature, film, graphic novels and TV serials.