Since his emergence in the early 1960s as a key member of the Pop Art movement, Peter Blake has become one of the best-known and most popular artists of his generation. Though primarily a painter, he has worked across many media, from drawings, watercolours and collages to sculpture and printmaking, as well as commercial art in the form of graphics and album covers – most notably his design for The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper album in 1967.
Exploring his remarkable creative output from the 1950s to the present, Peter Blake is the most comprehensive illustrated survey available of the life and work of the artist. Marco Livingstone grounds Blake’s art firmly in his working-class origins, identifying a yearning for the innocence of childhood in his bittersweet paintings of the early to mid-1950s that depict children reading comics or going to the Saturday matinee at the cinema. From that moment, while studying at the Royal College of Art in London, Blake concerned himself with popular entertainments as subject matter, and as the source of formal solutions, for his paintings. The directness with which Blake gave expression to his enthusiasms for mass culture during the 1950s brought him to the forefront of the Pop Art movement before it had even been named, and independently of the investigations into similar areas by other British, American and European artists. The radical nature of his collage paintings of 1959–62, in particular, in which he combined existing imagery from popular culture with unapologetically bold and bright colours, made him a singularly influential figure within British Pop.
This fully updated edition includes a new chapter on what the artist has jokingly styled his ‘Late Period’, in which Blake has continued to mine the many strands of his art with undiminished energy and completed some of his most ambitious long-standing projects. As well as the sheer scale of Blake’s production, what becomes clear is the kaleidoscopic variety of subject matter, form and medium to be found in his work, its humour and friendly appeal, and, above all, its celebration of life and humanity.