Peter Blake rose in the art scene in the late 1950s and went on to become one of the leading artists of his generation. Here are 10 interesting facts about the work and achievements of this famous British pop artist, who co-created the album cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and painted the iconic masterpiece of pop art On The Balcony.
#1 Blake didn’t aspire to be an artist in his childhood
Peter Blake was born on 25 June 1932 in Dartford, Kent in England. His father was an electrician while his mother worked as a nurse. Peter didn’t aspire to be an artist when he was a kid and his only drawing that caught the attention of anyone in school was that of his teacher Miss Gasper chasing him with her cane. She responded by pinning the drawing of her five years old student.
#2 He considers his teenage experience as important to his pop art
When he was 14 years old, Peter Blake joined the Gravesend School of Art. While at school Peter was introduced to high art and classical music, at home he followed more working-class pursuits like going to jazz clubs, football, speedway and wrestling competitions with his mother and aunts. According to Blake, this contrast played a part in his unique contributions to pop art.
#3 He studied at the Royal College of Art in London
After school Peter applied to the Royal College of Art in London. He initially tried to get in as a graphic designer but the principal noticed one of his paintings, suggested Blake to let the painting teachers have a look at his folder and this led to Blake being accepted into the painting school. He did two years of mandatory National Service before joining the Royal College of Art in 1954.
#4 Peter Blake is one of the most famous British pop artists
By late 1950s Blake had established himself in the British pop art scene. He had his first solo exhibition in 1960. In 1961 Blake won the John Moores junior award for his work Self Portrait with Badges. His popularity grew further when he was featured in a film on pop art titled Monitor which was broadcasted on BBC television in 1962. He went on to become one of the most famous British pop artists.
#5 His painting On His Balcony is an iconic piece of pop art
Painted between 1955 and 1957, On The Balcony is one of the most famous works of Peter Blake and an iconic piece of pop art. In it Blake has combined images from pop culture with fine art. The work appears to be a collage but is wholly painted. Among other things, it shows a boy holding Edouard Manet’s The Balcony; badges and magazines.
#6 His co-created the album cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
Peter Blake married American born pop artist Jann Haworth in 1963. They divorced in 1979 but before that they designed the cover for Beatles album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The cover, depicting the band posing in front of a tableau of celebrities and historical figures went on to become hugely popular and won for the couple the 1968 Grammy Award for Best Album Cover.
#7 Cover of Sgt. Pepper’s is Peter Blake’s most famous work
The cover of Sgt. Pepper’s is considered by many as the greatest album cover of all time. It is one of the iconic images of the time, has been much imitated and is Blake’s most famous work. Blake and Haworth never received any payment for the design apart from the one-off fee of £200 they received initially. Blake has complained that they should have been rewarded after the astounding success of the album and its cover art.
#8 He appeared in BBC2’s acclaimed “Arena” Masters of the Canvas documentary
After Sgt. Pepper’s, Blake went on to create covers for several albums including The Who’s Face Dances (1981) and Oasis greatest hits album Stop the Clocks (2006). In January 1992, Blake appeared on BBC2’s acclaimed “Arena” Masters of the Canvas documentary and painted the portrait of the wrestler Kendo Nagasaki.
#9 He is most known for his collages
Peter Blake is a versatile artist and has produced sculpture, engraving and printmaking, as well as commercial art in the form of graphics. But he is most famous for his collages in which he combines images of wrestlers, music-hall entertainers, film stars, advertisements etc. with his trademark planes of bright colour.
#10 Peter Blake received knighthood in 2002
Peter Blake became a Royal Academician in 1981. In 1983, Blake became a CBE and in 2002, he received a knighthood for his services to art. He is one of the leading figures in the art world, often referred to as the Godfather of British Pop Art. He lives in Chiswick, London.