Sir Peter Thomas Blake, CBE, RDI, (born 25 June 1932, in Dartford,
Kent) is an English pop artist, best known for his design of the
sleeve for the Beatles' album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.
He has also designed the Jersey for Chelsea Football Club for the
2010 season. He lives in Chiswick, London, UK.
During the late 1950s, Blake became one of the best known British
pop artists. His paintings from this time included imagery from
advertisements, music hall entertainment, and wrestlers, often
including collaged elements. Blake was included in group exhibitions
at the Institute of Contemporary Arts and had his first solo
exhibition in 1960. It was with the 'Young Contemporaries'
exhibition of 1961 where he was exhibited alongside David Hockney
and R.B. Kitaj that he was first identified with the emerging
British Pop Art movement. Blake won the (1961) John Moores junior
award for his work Self Portrait with Badges. He first came to wider
public attention when, along with Pauline Boty, Derek Boshier and
Peter Phillips, he was featured in Ken Russell's Monitor film on pop
art, Pop Goes the Easel, which was broadcast on BBC television in
1962. From 1963 Blake was represented by Robert Fraser which placed
him at the centre of swinging London and brought him into contact
with leading figures of popular culture.
On the Balcony (1955-57) is a significant early work and still
stands as one of the iconic pieces of British Pop Art, showing
Blake's interest in combining images from pop culture with fine art.
The work, which appears to be a collage but is in fact wholly
painted, shows, among other things, a boy on the left of the
composition holding Edouard Manet's The Balcony, badges and
magazines. It was inspired by a painting by Honoré Sharrer depicting
workers holding famous paintings.
Blake has directly referred to the
work of other artists many times. Another example is The First Real
Target (1961) is a standard archery target with the title written
across the top as a play on the paintings of targets by Kenneth
Noland and Jasper Johns.
Blake also painted several notable
album sleeves. He designed the sleeve for Sgt. Pepper's Lonely
Hearts Club Band with his then-wife Jann Haworth, the American-born
artist whom he married in 1963 and divorced in 1979. The Sgt.
Pepper's sleeve has become an iconic work of pop art, much imitated
and Blake's best known work. Producing the image necessitated the
construction of a set with cut-out photographs and objects, such as
flowers, centred around a drum (sold in auction in 2008) with the
title of the album. Blake has subsequently complained about the
one-off fee he received for the design (£200), with no subsequent
royalties. Blake also made sleeves for the Band Aid single, "Do They
Know It's Christmas?" (1984), Paul Weller's Stanley Road (1995) and
the Ian Dury tribute album Brand New Boots and Panties (2001; Blake
had been Dury's tutor at the Royal College of Art in the mid-60s).
He also designed the sleeves for Pentangle's Sweet Child and The
Who's Face Dances (1981), which features portraits of the band by a
number of artists.
In 1969 Blake left London to live
near Bath. Blake's work changed direction featuring scenes based on
English Folklore and characters from Shakespeare. In the early
1970s, he made a set of watercolours to illustrate Lewis Carroll's
Through the Looking-Glass and in 1975 was a founder of the
Brotherhood of Ruralists. Blake moved back to London in 1979 and his
work returned to the earlier popular culture references.
In June 2006, as The Who returned
to play Leeds University 36 years after recording their seminal Live
at Leeds album there in 1970, Blake unveiled a new Live at Leeds 2
artwork to commemorate the event. Both the artist and The Who's Pete
Townshend signed an edition which will join the gallery's
More recently, Blake has created
Artist's editions for the opening of the Pallant House Gallery which
houses collections that include some of his most famous paintings.
These works are homages to his earlier work on the Stanley Road
album cover and Babe Rainbow prints. He also designed a series of
In 2006, Blake designed the cover
for Oasis greatest hits album Stop the Clocks. According to Blake,
he chose all of the objects in the picture at random, but the
sleeves of Sgt. Pepper's and Definitely Maybe were in the back of
his mind. He claims, "It's using the mystery of Definitely Maybe and
running away with it." Familiar cultural icons which can be seen on
the cover include Dorothy from Wizard of Oz, Charles Manson
(replacing the original image of Marilyn Monroe, which could not be
used for legal reasons) and the seven dwarfs from Snow White And The
Blake also revealed that the final
cover wasn't the original one. That design featured an image of the
shop 'Granny Takes A Trip' on the Kings Road in Chelsea, London.
Blake created an updated version of
Sgt. Pepper - with famous figures from Liverpool history - as part
of the successful campaign for Liverpool to become European Capital
of Culture 2008, and is creating a series of prints to celebrate
In 2008, Blake painted a pig for
the public art event King Bladud's Pigs In Bath in the English city
He also recently designed a
shopping bag for the Lucky Brand Jeans company for the holiday
Blake created the carpet which runs
through the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom's Middlesex