On 25th June 2023, Sir Peter Blake celebrates his 91st birthday. Enter Gallery has worked with Blake for over 30 years and we have one of the largest archives of his work of any gallery in the UK.
This month we honoured Blake’s birthday with a Kids Club, where we introduced the children of Brighton to collage – one of Blake’s most beloved mediums. We are also displaying several fantastic pieces by the prolific artist that celebrate his life, career, and status as the ‘Godfather of Pop Art.’
If you’re in Brighton, swing by the gallery, and one of our Art Advisors will be happy to show you the works, so that you can see for yourself just how special they are.
For those further afield, today we’re running through a selection of sensational Peter Blake artworks that showcase his various artistic styles. All of which are not only great investments, but an excellent opportunity for art lovers to own a piece of art history.
SGT Slaughter 4th
Did you know that if Peter Blake hadn’t become an artist, he would have tried his hand at professional wrestling? Oh well – wrestling’s loss was the art world’s gain, and Blake’s love of the ‘theatre, fantasy and idea of good versus evil’ of the sport has resulted in many a collection depicting wrestlers.
SGT Slaughter 4th hails from Blake’s 2015 show, Portraits and People – for which Blake created his own band of fictional wrestlers. Does SGT Slaughter remind you of anyone? Antonio Banderas perhaps? That’s because Blake based his wrestlers on famous people to give the works an air of familiarity, and to provoke that glimmer of recognition you get when looking at a celebrity.
This piece is instantly-recognisable as a work by Blake, because it combines three well-known elements of his oeuvre; watercolour portraiture, typography, and flags.
Found Art: Red Band
Another defining element of Blake’s work is his use of found materials. In fact, he’s known for sourcing his imagery from his impressive collection of ephemera, which includes photographs, advertisements and other printed materials dating back decades.
Found Art: Red Band is an example of Blake’s love of taking these found objects, and cigarette packets in particular, and enlarging them. For this piece, he has blown up this vintage packet of ciggies to over a metre in height, making every crack and detail on the worn surface of the pack a fascinating feature.
Homage to Rauschenberg V
Here, he pays tribute to American artist, Robert Rauschenberg, whose early works are credited with the birth of the Pop Art movement. Rauschenberg was known for his Combines pieces – a group of works which used everyday objects as art materials, blurring the lines between painting and sculpture.
In the Homage to Rauschenberg Set, Blake explicitly references the artist’s collaged posters from the 1960s, combining everything from board games and fabric badges to flags and blocks of pop art colours.
Given this work provides a glimpse into Blake’s artistic beginnings, it’s a prime piece for any Blake fan, that encapsulates the work of not one, but two, of the world’s greatest pop artists.
Paris Suite: Working Elephants
One reason Peter Blake has earned his Pop Art moniker is down to his depictions of the people, places, animals and objects that are constantly called upon to entertain us. Given the constant presence of elephants in popular culture, be that films, books, TV, fashion…it’s no surprise Blake has chosen to depict the beloved animal in his lauded 2011 Paris Suite.
This series follows Blake’s 2009 Venice Suite, in which he tours the great cities of the world. The Paris Suite draws inspiration from antique souvenir postcard sets of the city. In this piece, he uses images of elephants sourced from his collection of ephemera to populate the square outside of La Madeleine church.
This piece showcases Blake’s unparalleled skill at composing the ‘magic crowds’ he creates for infamous works like his Beatles’ cover for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, his BBC pieces, and his Marcel Duchamp World Tour Series. Furthermore, it combines numerous motifs from his work, including circus performers, animals, people dancing and butterflies.
Q is for Quarters
Blake has created numerous coveted collections exploring the letters of the alphabet. Before his 2007 A-Z Alphabet Portfolio and his 2017 Dazzle Alphabet came Blake’s 1991 series of alphabet letters, including this piece of the letter Q.
Featuring the bright Pop Art palette that characterises his work, Blake divides the paper into simple and bold quarters of bright blocks of colour.
Elvis in Paris
There’s no doubt about it, Peter Blake is an enormous fan of the King of Rock and Roll, and that’s no surprise given Elvis’s enormous impact on popular culture. From works like Got a Girl, to Blake’s American Trilogy and Stars Series, if Elvis is featured, you can be sure that Blake is behind the work.
One of Blake’s most incredible depictions of the superstar is Elvis in Paris, which sees him happily relaxing on the streets of the City of Light, alongside a cast of circus performers, tattooed people and butterflies. The piece also portrays Blake’s Butterfly Man, a character seen across numerous works, including Another Parade and his Vichy Trio.
True to form, in this piece Blake revels in mixing time periods and genres, and playing with colour and scale. It is particularly special as it is a lenticular, which gives it a unique sense of movement that brings it alive on the wall.
Manhattan Boogie Woogie
When most people think of Peter Blake, the first thing that will spring to mind is the album covers that he’s created for some of the biggest bands of our times. In addition to his Beatles’ cover, over the years we’ve seen Blake design covers for Paul Weller, Eric Clapton, The Who, Ian Drury and the Blockhead, Oasis and more.
Peter Blake created Manhattan Boogie Woogie for English synth-pop band, Landscape, back in 1982. The cover is inspired by the visual cultures of the 1930s and 40, when boogie-woogie music was in its heyday.
The piece is another masterclass in Blake’s artistic stylings, featuring collaged images of cultural icons of the time, Jimmy Stewart and Louis Armstrong, alongside nods to fellow artists, Matisse and Piet Mondrian.
We hope you agree that Peter Blake’s prolific output and enduring artistic influence is something to be celebrated. With that in mind, we hope you’ll join us in wishing happy birthday to one of the greats!
View our entire collection of Peter Blake artworks.