Peter Blake and Pop Music – Pallant House Gallery 23 June to 7 October 2012
Peter Blake, Got a girl, 1960-61, Enamel, photo montage and record, Whitworth Art Gallery, University of Manchester © the artist/ DACS 2012
Pallant House Gallery in Chichester, West Sussex, is delighted to present a major exhibition to celebrate the 80th birthday of the Godfather of Pop Art, Sir Peter Blake (b. 1932) featuring key paintings, collages and prints from across the artist’s career inspired by his lifelong love of music, alongside his iconic artwork for album covers such as Paul Weller’s Stanley Road and The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
This exhibition draws on the extensive collection of British Pop Art at Pallant House Gallery and will feature loans from public and private collections across the UK. It will be a celebration of one of Britain’s most popular artists during the London Olympics in his 80th year.
Peter Blake, Self Portrait with Badges, 1961, Oil on hardboard, Tate: Presented by the Moores Family Charitable Foundation to celebrate the John Moores Liverpool Exhibition 1979 © the artist/ DACS 2012
Sir Peter Blake has been closely linked with pop music since the 1950s. Not only has he painted images inspired by his musical heroes such as Elvis Presley, The Beatles and Sammy Davis Junior but he has worked closely with musicians and bands including Oasis, The Who and Eric Clapton to create some of the most recognisable album covers of the last 50 years.
Blake’s passion for American music developed early, a result of discovering his father’s collection of swing records as well as evenings spent at the Dartford Rhythm Club from the age of 15. The first section of the show focuses on the theme of Rock n’ Roll and will include Blake’s memorable paintings such as ‘Girls and Their Hero’ (1959-62) capturing the mania surrounding ‘The King’ in the late 1950s, and ‘EL’ which features a lip-stick stained found photograph of the American singer.
It will also feature Blake’s iconic ‘Self Portrait with badges’ which casts himself in the role of fan to the legend of Elvis. The image references Thomas Gainsborough’s famous portrait ‘The Blue Boy’ but Blake changes the fabric from silk to denim in an allusion to American youth culture.
Peter Blake, Portrait of Sammy Davis Junior, 1960, Oil on hardboard, Collection of Magda Archer and Harry Hill © the artist/ DACS 2012
Blake’s use of American icons in his art preceded that of Andy Warhol by several years, fuelling his resentment of American critics who panned an exhibition of British Pop in New York in 1962, dubbing it a second-class imitation of the American version An avid collector of pop memorabilia, this section of the exhibition will also include examples from Blake’s extraordinary collection of Elvis ephemera as well as pieces inspired by other musicians and groups such as the American soul singers La Vern Baker and The Beach Boys.
Blake is perhaps best known for his iconic album cover for The Beatles’ album Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, which he designed with the artist Jann Haworth. Blake first met The Beatles in the early 1960s, before their acceleration to superstardom following the release of the No. 1 hit album ‘Please Please Me’ in March 1963. The second section of the exhibition will include Blake’s memorable group portrait of the Fab Four, painted as if it was itself an album cover.
Talking to the critic Mervyn Levy at the time, Blake rather quaintly said: ‘At the moment I’m working on a large conversation piece of the Liverpool song group, The Beatles. Each of these chaps is closely associated with the city and I hope the local fans will find in this picture a visual significance that will somehow match the mood of the music.”
Exhibition dates: 23 June to 7 October 2012
Pallant House Gallery
9 North Pallant
Tel: 01243 774557