Peter Blake

b. 1932

Sir Peter Blake (b. 1932, Dartford, Kent) is a British painter, sculptor, draughtsman and printmaker. Often referred to as the ‘Father of British Pop Art’, his practice incorporates a range of styles, including folk art and collage. In 1946, Blake enrolled at Gravesend School of Art to study graphic design and began to collect popular art and ephemera. After National Service, in 1953 Blake joined the Royal College of Art, London and studied alongside Robyn Denny, Leon Kosoff, Richard Smith and Joe Tilson. There, elements of popular culture began to enter Blake’s painting, predating American Pop art. Having seen the work of Kurt Schwitters he started to work in collage. After graduating in 1956, Blake won the Leverhulme Research Award and spent a year travelling abroad, the first time he had left the United Kingdom, visiting Holland, Belgium, France, Italy and Spain. Returning to London, Blake continued to appropriate pop culture icons and advertising imagery to create homages to the likes of Marilyn Monroe, Brigitte Bardot, Elvis Presley and professional wrestlers. His iconic 1961 Self-portrait with Badges, in the Tate Collection, shows Blake holding an Elvis album, dressed in American jeans, Converse trainers, and baseball badges. In 1967 Blake designed the iconic album cover for The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band with his first wife Jann Haworth and continued to be associated with the music world by designing album covers for other bands including The Who and Ian Drury and the Blockheads. 


After this prodigious start, from the 1970s to today Blake has enjoyed regular gallery and institutional exhibitions, frequently designing posters for the shows as well as pieces for national magazines and newspapers. Blake was elected a member of the Royal Academy in 1981, had residency at the National Gallery, London 1993–96 and was knighted in 2002. 2013 saw the first presentation of Blakes’s major series Dylan Thomas: Under Milk Wood, at National Museum Cardiff. In 2014, his 7 metre-wide montage mural Appearing at the Royal Albert Hall was unveiled and the Mersey ferry Snowdrop, commissioned by Liverpool Biennial, was launched in 2015. In 2020, during the Covid-19 pandemic, Blake designed the Evening Standard’s London Stands Together poster and in December 2020 his Thank You London was illuminated on the advertising hoarding at Piccadilly Circus and projected on the facade of the National Gallery and the dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral. 


Blake’s first solo exhibition was held in 1962 at Portal Gallery, London; solo shows followed at Robert Fraser Gallery, London (1965) and at Leslie Waddington Prints, London (1969). His first retrospective exhibition was held in 1969 at the City Art Gallery, Bristol. Subsequent retrospectives were held in 1973 at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, touring to Hamburg and Brussels and the Tate Gallery in 1983. In 1994 he was made the Third Associate Artist of the National Gallery, London. In 2007, the Tate Liverpool held a major retrospective of Peter Blake’s work which toured to the Museo de Bellas Artes, Bilbao, Spain in 2008. A large retrospective of Blake’s collage work, including some of his earliest pieces, took place at Waddington Custot in 2021 with the title Peter Blake: Time Traveller. The major monograph Peter Blake Collage was published by Thames & Hudson alongside the exhibition. In 2022 Waddington Custot presented Blake’s Under Milk Wood series,the first time it had been exhibited outside of Wales to commemorate the artist’s 90th birthday. Marco Livingstone’s Peter Blake: One Man Show, was republished with an additional chapter by Thames & Hudson to commemorate the same occasion.


Peter Blake lives and works in London. He is represented worldwide by Waddington Custot. 



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'At Work with Peter Blake' installation

Frieze Masters 5-8 October 2017 Waddington Custot


Exhibitions and Art Fairs