Peter Blake and Pop Music
Pallant House Gallery, Chichester
Sir Peter Blake may have just turned 80, but he shows no signs of retiring from the studio. He continues to release beautiful editioned prints and contribute to group shows. Following on from a exhibition at the Royal Albert Hall celebrating Blake’s life and career, Pallant House Gallery have put together a show that focuses specifically on the artist’s work relating to pop music.
Blake is one of the most loved of British Art’s older generation, and is also an eminence grise supporter of the YBAs speaking up for the values of their work within contemporary art. Part of the original British pop art generation, Blake is perhaps most widely known for the iconic album covers he created for The Beatles, Paul Weller, The Who and Oasis.
This exhibition,features all of Blake’s own ‘greatest hits’ including the painting that first revealed his pop sensibilities, Self Portrait with Badges, and, of course, it wouldn’t be complete without his cover design for The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. That may be the image for which Blake is most famous but it’s only one of countless works that reveal the artists deep-felt interest in all things pop.
Blake’s paintings and prints are not just art which ‘describes’ his heroes; these works express the pleasure of being a fan, as well as questioning the relationship between stars and audience. This may be why the public maintain such an enduring fondness for Blake; he shares their earnest, everyday love of memorabilia rather than being distracted by his own celebrity.
Ultimately, what this exhibition reveals is that Blake is at heart a collector (as evidenced by examples on show drawn from the artist’s extensive collection of Elvis ephemera) and it’s how he collages his collection into prints and paintings that make his unique style continue to captivate today.