Sir Peter Blake, born in Dartford, Kent in 1932, studied initially at Gravesend Technical College from 1949-51. Upon graduating in 1956 he 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. As a result Blake’s style evolved from the classical naturalistic oil paintings of his early oeuvre to the collaged works containing images of movie stars, musicians and pin-up girls that we most readily associate him with. However, Blake retained the naturalistic strain of his work and has continued to use oil on canvas throughout his career.
During the 1960s and 70s Blake taught at various institutions such as St. Martins School of Art and Harrow School of Art. His art was also exhibited in many individual and group shows, both domestically and internationally. In 1961 his work was brought to the attention of the wider audience by featuring in Ken Russell’s BBC film on Pop Art Pop Goes the Weasel and by winning the John Moores Award for his work Self Portrait with Badges.
Blake began to revisit the popular culture references that had been prolific in his early career on his return to London in 1979. He was elected a member of the Royal Academy of Arts in 1981, and a CBE in 1983. There was a major retrospective of his art, Now We Are 64, at the National Gallery in 1996, as well as at Tate Liverpool in 2000.
Knighted in 2002, he is an honorary doctor of the Royal College of Art and with his work represented in major collections throughout the world; Sir Peter Blake truly is a grandee of British Art.