Born in Dartford, Kent in 1932, Peter Blake was a leading figure of the British Pop scene in the 1960s. Living and working in London today, Blake continues pushing the boundaries of what—and whom—this predominantly New York-based movement could include.
After completing his national service with the Royal Air Force in 1953, Blake enrolled at the Royal College of Art. There, he studied alongside other leading figures based in London, such as David Hockney, R.B. Kitaj, and Joe Tilson. After graduating, the artist began mining mass media and advertising imagery to create homages to the specific genre of popular culture present in Britain. For example, a long-time aficionado of wrestling, Blake not only painted portraits of his favorite athletes, but also collected posters, dolls, photographs, and various dioramas of fighters engaged in combat. He is perhaps most well known for creating the iconic cover of The Beatles' 1967 album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. In both early and mature work, the spirit of a vanguard artist—whose collages, paintings, and assemblages remain amongst the most celebrated of our time—is easily visible.
Throughout his career, Blake has been the subject of 56 solo exhibitions, including ten at Waddington Custot Gallery (1969, 1972, 1977, 1978, 1990, 2005, 2010, 2012, 2015, 2016, 2018, London), four at Galerie Claude Bernard (1984, 1995, 2009, 2016, Paris) and three at Wetterling Gallery (1990, 2006, 2012, 2016, Gothenburg and Stockholm). In 1983, Tate Gallery mounted Blake’s first career retrospective which travelled on to the Kestner Gessellschaft in Hanover. In 2007, the Tate Liverpool presented a second retrospective of Blake’s work which would tour on to the Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao.
Peter Blake’s work has been featured in many landmark museum exhibitions, such as: British Art Today (1962-1963, San Francisco Museum of Art; 1963, Dallas Museum of Contemporary Art, Santa Barbara Museum of Art), London: The New Scene (1965, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Washington Gallery of Modern Art; Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; Seattle Art Museum Pavillion; Vancouver Art Gallery; Art Gallery of Toronto; National Gallery of Canada, Ottowa), British Drawings: The New Generation (1967, Museum of Modern Art, New York), European Painting in the 70s (1975-1976, Los Angeles County Museum of Art; 1976, St. Louis Art Museum; Elvehjem Art Center, Madison, Wisconsin), Forty Years of Modern Art (1986, Tate Gallery, London) and Revolution: Art of the Sixties from Warhol to Beuys (1995, Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo).
Most recently, Blake’s work appeared in Pop to Popism (2014, Australia’s Art Gallery of New South Wales), International Pop, (2015–2016, Walker Art Center, Dallas Museum of Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art) and POP! Art in a Changing Britain (2018, Pallant House Gallery, Chicester)
Blake’s work is in the permanent collections of major museums internationally, including: the Baltimore Museum of Art; the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; the Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao; the Museum Ludwig, Cologne; the Museum Moderner Kunst, Vienna; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the National Museum Wales; the Royal College of Art, London; the Tate, London; the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, Madrid; and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.