Sir Peter Blake CBE RDI RA (b.1932, Dartford, Kent) is a British painter, printmaker, sculptor, and draughtsman. He began his artistic studies at Gravesend Technical College from 1949-1951, alongside other key British Pop artists such as David Hockney, R.B. Kitaj, Joe Tilson, Allen Jones, Peter Phillips and Derek Boshier.
After a period of national service in the Royal Air Force, Blake attended the Royal College of Art, and upon graduating in 1956 won the Leverhulme Research Award to study popular art; this allowed him to travel and study folk art in countries such as Belgium, France, Italy and Spain: his grand tour. It was around the period of his return to the UK that Blake's style evolved from the classical naturalistic oil paintings of his early period to the collages containing images of movie stars, musicians and pin-up girls that we most readily associate him with. Nevertheless, Blake also retains the naturalistic strain of his practice and has continued to work in oil on canvas throughout his career.
During the 1960s and 70s Blake taught at various institutions such as Central St. Martins School of Art, Harrow School of Art, Walthamstow School of Art and the Royal College of Art. He started to exhibit his work in many individual and group shows during this period, both domestically and internationally. In 1961 he won the John Moores Painting Prize for ‘Self Portrait with Badges’ and was also featured in Ken Russell's BBC film on Pop Art 'Pop Goes the Easel', which first brought him to wide popular attention. In 1969 Blake left London to live in the West Country where he became a founding member of the Brotherhood of Ruralists in 1975.
He continued to live near Bristol for the next four years, and during this period his work temporarily moved away from glossy commercial pop art and primarily focused on literary and rural subjects in oil. A move back to London in 1979 saw his work revert to its pop art tendencies and by 1981 he was elected a member of the Royal Academy of Arts, which was followed by him receiving a CBE in 1983.
Since the early 1960s, Blake has featured in a prolific number of solo and group exhibitions, including a major retrospective, ‘Now We Are 64’, at the National Gallery in 1996, as well as at Tate Liverpool in 2007. His work and reputation as an esteemed artist has travelled across the world several times, and has been shown in galleries such as Tate (London and Liverpool), The Royal Academy (London), Waddington Custot (London), The National Gallery (London), National Museum of Wales (Cardiff), Galerie Claude Bernard (Paris), Wetterling Gallery (Stockholm), Palais des Beaux-Arts (Brussells), Govida Gallery (Washington DC), Paul Morris Gallery (New York), San Francisco Museum of Art (San Francisco), The National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa), Nishimura Gallery (Tokyo), and China Art Gallery (Beijing), amongst many more. Blake’s work is also featured in various public collections, including the Arts Council Collection (London), Museum Moderner Kunst (Vienna), Museum of Modern Art (New York), and the Baltimore Museum of Art (Baltimore).
In more recent years, Blake designed the album cover artwork for The Who’s twelfth studio album, Who. In 2017 he was commissioned to create a 25-meter collage to cover the façade of the Mandarin Orient Hotel in Hyde Park (London) which featured 100 celebrity figures, and in 2015 was asked by Tate Liverpool and Liverpool Biennial to transform a Mersey ferry into a 'dazzle ship' to commemorate the work of First World War ship designers. The 'dazzle ferry' project was at the centre of a BBC 'What Do Artists Do All Day?' episode focusing on Blake. That same year, the artist also created the collage to commemorate 800 years of London’s Lord Mayor’s Show. Blake has designed fabrics for Stella McCartney, as well as the carpets in the new Supreme Court. In 2012 he re-designed the BRIT award statuettes and produced a portrait of HM The Queen commissioned by the Radio Times to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee, which appeared on its front cover.
Blake currently lives and continues to work in Chiswick, London.