Sunday, 27 May 2012

169. AMERICAN TRILOGY: stars and stripes, Elvis Presley and Coco Cola by PETER BLAKE

STOP PRESS: the portrait of the Queen on the Royal Souvenir Issue of the Radio Times is by Sir Peter Blake.

Now read on...Sir Peter Blake, an honorary doctor of the Royal College of Art and knighted in 2002, is (was) perhaps most widely known for his amazing album cover of the Beatles LP Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967). He celebrated his 80th birthday recently with an exhibition at the Railings Gallery in Marylebone. He announced, 'At 75 I said I was in my 'late period'. Really it's a way of giving myself more excuses for doing what I want to do. That was my finale. Everything else is an...encore'.                          And what an encore! Above is one of a trilogy of signed, limited edition prints featuring 3 American icons: stars and stripes, Elvis Presley and CocoCola, signifying the mass cultural revolution America led in the 1950s.

The other two images display Blake's versatility and invention. Faith, Hope and Charity, like the album cover,is a collage made from found objects, in this case Victorian postcards. It’s based on his lifelong belief that everyday objects - things as valueless as old cigarette packets, packaging from children's games, match boxes etc - can become the subject matter of high art. By re arranging pictures on postcards for us, Blake illustrates the three Christian virtues which St Paul urged the inhabitants of Corinth to practise in his first letter to them almost 2,000 years ago. Think again about sentiment, and  the power of words to change lives, Blake seems to be saying.
‘Faith’ has cherub heads and children making music, reminding us of innocence and joy. The rectangular panel at the top is taken from a work by Sir Joshua Reynolds (1787). Each panel includes the design of a hand holding a message: Remember Me – Forget Me Not – A  Tribute of Love, which would have been the centrepieces of the original postcards.
In Four Men Up Blake's skill with compostion and pattern-making transforms a revered city landmark into a surprising carnival.  In the crowd in front of the Grand Palais in Paris there are native Indians, school girls, rugby players, bagpipes and kilts: a surreal circus scene with ethnically diverse people from past and present posed as performers, music makers, spectators - or simply looking out at us.  The image manages to confront the viewer while being witty and evocative at the same time. for the story of how Peter Blake 're-ceated' the original Sgt. Papper's Band LP cover in April this year.


No comments:

Post a Comment