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Friday, 14 June, 2002, 23:00 GMT 00:00 UK
Blake: Leading light of pop art
Peter Blake
Peter Blake: Hero of 60s pop art
Peter Blake, who has been knighted in the Queen's birthday honours list, was one of the leading lights of the pop art movement of the 1960s.

His iconic design for the cover of the Beatles' album Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band ensured he transcended the art world - his work took pride of place in the homes of millions of record-buyers.

Although it was one of his most famous pieces, he was paid just £200 for the sleeve, receiving no royalties from the album's phenomenal success.

Born in Dartford, Kent, Sir Peter, 69, studied at Gravesend School of Art before being accepted into the prestigious Royal Academy of Art in London.

He graduated in 1956, having completed his National Service, and went off travelling the world, drawing inspiration as he roamed.

Stanley Road
Sir Peter Blake designed Paul Weller's Stanley Road album cover
Andy Warhol is often cited as the founder of pop art but in fact Sir Peter created his Captain Webb Matchbox before Warhol's soup tin paintings used consumer products as art.

Sir Peter's fondness for popular culture can be clearly seen in much of his eclectic collages and silk screen prints with images of Marilyn Monroe mixing with Mona Lisa.

Solo show

Sir Peter's first brush with fame came when he was featured in Ken Russell's seminal film Pop Goes the Easel which was shown on the BBC in 1962.

The following year he went on to have his first solo show.

He became an art teacher, tutoring at various art schools, where one of his earliest protégées was the late singer Ian Dury, who became a close friend.

He also lived down the road from Rolling Stone Mick Jagger.

But Sir Peter's rise into the top echelons of the art world has not come without controversy.

His role as senior hanger of the Royal Academy's Summer Exhibition in 2001 was widely criticised for his decision to shake-up the traditional show.

'Dumbing down'

He invited friends such as Sir Paul McCartney, Tracy Emin and designer Nicole Fahri to enter works for the exhibition.

The modernisation of the Summer Exhibition left Royal Academy academicians angry at what was seen as a "dumbing down" exercise.

Sir Peter even admitted he was close to quitting the Royal Academy in the wake of the furore.

The father of pop art has influenced many generations of artists since he exploded onto the seen, with many album covers paying homage to his original Sgt Pepper work.

He has also kept his hand in designing album sleeves including the cover of the Band Aid single Do They Know its Christmas? and Paul Weller's Stanley Road.



Arise, Sir Mick

Other stars honoured

TALKING POINT
See also:

09 Jan 01 | Entertainment
25 Jan 01 | Entertainment
28 May 99 | Entertainment
27 Dec 00 | Entertainment
20 Sep 00 | UK
16 Aug 99 | UK
11 Jun 02 | Arts
31 May 01 | Arts
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