Peter Blake


Born in Dartford , Kent , Peter Blake attended Gravesend School of Art and, after his National Service (1951-1953), he studied at the Royal College of Art. His contemporaries included R.B. Kitaj, Joe Tilson and Richard Smith and they were soon to be joined by Patrick Caulfield, Robin Denny, David Hockney and Peter Phillips. A Leverhulme Scholarship enabled Blake to travel extensively throughout Europe during 1956-1957 and pursue his interest in folk and popular art. This has been a recurring theme in his art, which may include, for example, wrestlers, circus performers, pin up girls, rock stars (such as Elvis and Bo Diddley), film stars (such as Monroe and Jean Harlow), badges and Victorian postcards. His pictures are affectionate and sometimes nostalgic. They are often light hearted, amusing, and irreverent. They frequently incorporate (or appear to incorporate) elements of collage.

Gradually I realized I could base my work on my life and the things I was interested in. I used my interest in typography, pop music and popular culture as sources for my work”. (From the catalogue for the “About Collage” exhibition, Tate Liverpool , 2000)

In 1960, Blake began teaching at St Martin's School of Art (with Joe Tilson and Richard Smith). In 1961 he won the John Moore Exhibition Prize in Liverpool. He was featured in the first ever edition of the Sunday Times Colour Magazine in an article entitled “Pioneer of Pop Art” and, in the same year, on BBC television in the programme “Pop Goes The Easel”. Blake's first solo London Show was the following year and another was to follow in 1965. He had a solo print show at Waddington's Print Gallery in 1969. Between 1974 and 1976 he taught at the Royal College of Art. There have been numerous solo shows worldwide (including Amsterdam, Paris, Tokyo and Washington).

There was a touring retrospective in 1973 and one at the Tate gallery in 1983. Blake was appointed as Associate Artist at the National Gallery in London in 1994. In 1997 he held a major exhibition there, drawing on the works in the collection for a witty and provocative show. A further solo exhibition was held at the Tate, Liverpool in 2000.

Peter Blake became an R.A. in 1981, was awarded a C.B.E in 1983 and knighted in 2002.

He famously designed the cover for the Beatles' Sergeant Pepper”album (1967); the Band Aid poster and cover for the single “Do They Know Its Christmas?” (1984); Paul Weller's “ Stanley Road ” (1995) and the Ian Drury tribute album “Brand New Boots and Panties” (2001).

Blake has made prints throughout his career and has turned his talent to screenprints, lithographs and etchings. Several of his prints are in the collection of the Tate Gallery.

He has said that he aimed with his “Pop Art” to achieve the directness and distribution of pop music and that he came closest to achieving this with his prints.