The Artist’s Studio
Born in Dartford, Kent in 1932, Peter Blake was a leading figure of the British Pop scene in the 1960s. Blake pushed the boundaries of what—and whom—this predominantly New York-based movement could include. Upon enrolling at the Royal College of Art in London in 1953, he studied alongside other prominent artists such as R.B. Kitaj, Richard Smith, and Joe Tilson. After graduating, Blake began mining mass media and advertising imagery to create homages to the specific genre of popular culture present in Britain. Comprising both early and mature works, the exhibition captures the spirit of a vanguard artist whose art remains amongst the most celebrated of our time.
The architectural structure stands almost haphazardly in the gallery, as if being surgically removed from London and transplanted to New York. Appearing fractured, the walls, exposed brick, and steel beams mimic the industrial setting of the artist’s studio in West London. Hanging alongside and strewn about the physical structure, books, photographs, wrestling memorabilia, and iconic works by the artist fill every open space. A long-time boxing and wrestling aficionado, Blake not only painted portraits of his favorite athletes, but also collected posters, dolls, photographs, and various dioramas of fighters engaged in combat.
Also on display are the amassed knickknacks, catalogue pages, and paintbrushes that Blake employs in the creation of his trademark works. The viewer is thus awarded a privileged view into the artist’s mind, regarding not only his process (pencils, scissors) but also his inspiration (wrestlers, movie posters, toy cars). This immersive display was first shown in Waddington Custot’s booth at Frieze Masters in London in 2018.
Key to this project was a team of collaborators starting with designer Robin Brown, producer Anna Pank, and production designer Edward Helbig. Jacob Twyford, the director of Waddington Custot, and his entire staff were especially critical at each step in the project, as well. Our most important thanks goes to Peter and Chrissy Blake who have trusted us with their collected memorabilia, unique pieces of furniture, and beautiful works of art.