Godfather of PopArt
British born Peter Blake is argualbly the artist responsible for the massive Pop Art movement. His work reflects his fascination with all things pop culture and the beauty found in everyday objects, products and surroundings. He uses bold primary colours and often combines found objects like photographs, newspapers, comic strips, and advertisments, with images of pop icons and products to created beautiful collages that are still current today in respect to their aesthetic values. Additionally he has created quite a reputation for his sculpture, engraving and printmaking.
His work is very representative of the 1960’s period with his use of geometric shapes, psychedelia, and ties with some of the greatest musicians of that period. His album artworks created for great bands such as the Beatles, the Who, and Oasis etc, are some of the most recognized images in album artwork to date.
He was tutored in the traditional skills of drawing – his first naked life model was Quentin Crisp – typography, lettering, silversmithing and joinery and although he thrived, he remembers feeling as though he were leading a double life. “At school I was in contact with these rather urbane and artistic teachers who introduced me to high art and classical music. At home I was following more working-class pursuits like going to jazz clubs, football, speedway and the wrestling with my mother and my aunts. I was intrigued to find out about Beethoven and Mozart and all that. But I also liked the Dartford rhythm club and the great thing was that one life didn’t suppress the other, apart from my teachers’ enthusiasm for Cézanne, which turned me against him until very recently. But that contrast between art-school life and home life is how I explain my later part in pop art. When I was at the Royal College, all this information from my life became valid.”
Peter Blake creates collages that are undoubtedly odd but never jarring or disruptive. His taste for cut-and-paste techniques does not, like most Dada art, culminate in black humour; Blake is nothing if not light. He opposes nothing and negates nothing but instead basks in the icons of popular culture. His prints indulge the utmost veneration for Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, the Beatles, and Elvis. If Warhol’s aim was to render culturally salient images meaningless, Peter Blake puts his heroes on a pedestal, paying homage to them with neither irony nor ambiguity. There is also a strain of sentimentality and nostalgia running throughout his work, with particular focus towards childhood innocence and reminiscence, as can be seen clearly in his recent Alphabet series.
Knighted in 2002, an honorary doctor of the Royal College of Art, and with his work represented in major collections throughout the world, Sir Peter truly is a grandee of British art.