Peter Blake (artist)

Peter Blake (born June 25, 1932) is a British artist, perhaps best known among the general public for his design of the sleeve for The Beatles' album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Born in Dartford, Blake studied at the Gravesend School of Art, and then the Royal College of Art, where his contemporaries inlcuded Bridget Riley and Frank Auerbach. He graduated from there in 1956, returning in 1964 as a teacher (he stayed until 1976). He also studied folk art throughout Europe, and from 1951 to 1953 he served in the Royal Air Force.

Around the late 1950s, Blake became one of the best known British pop artists, making a number of paintings including imagery from advertisements, music hall entertainment, wrestlers (in The Masked Zebra Kid (1965), for example) and so on. Many of these works include collaged elements. He first came to public attention when he featured in Ken Russell's film on pop art, Pop Goes the Easel, which was broadcast on BBC television.

On the Balcony (1955-57) is a significant early work, 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 holding Edouard Manet's The Balcony, badges and magazines. It was inspired by a painting by Honoré Sharrer depicting workers holding famous paintings.

Another piece to refer to the work of other artists is The First Real Target (1961). This is a real archery target, stuck to a board with the title of the work written across the top. It refers to the paintings of targets made by Kenneth Noland and Jasper Johns.

As well as the sleeve for Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967), 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). He also designed the sleeve for The Who's Face Dances (1981), which features portraits of the band by a number of artists. In the early 1970s, he made a set of watercolours to illustrate Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass.

Blake was made a Royal Academician in 1981, a CBE in 1983, and in 2002 was knighted.

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