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Through the Looking Glass

Posted on: 28 April 2011

So it's time for another one of my rare Art posts. This time, it's an artist that I am all to familiar with and that's Peter Blake. I spent a whole Summer researching the archives at Tate Britain, unearthing all sorts of newspaper clippings for my Art History dissertation. Often touted as the founder of British Pop Art (which precedes American Pop Art), he is infamous for creating the cover for The Beatles Sgt. Pepper's Lonely hearts club band album.
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Not only is the album art work one of the most iconic covers of all time, Blake was paid a one-off fee of £200. Meaning that the subsequent popularity of the record did not benefit him in any way whatsoever, so as you can imagine, it's not his favourite of conversation topics. While I am a fan of his brightly coloured and often, collaged 60s art, I am quite fond of his later work too where he took inspiration from nature, fairytales, old masters and more traditional forms of art. I could go on, but at the end of the day, I am a sucker for a pretty watercolour and fairytales.
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Girl in a Poppy Field, 1974 (screenprint on paper) Liberty Blake in a Kimono 1971 (Watercolour)
I've saved the real gems for this part of the post. Inspired by fairytales and a visit to the Simon Rodia Watts Tower in LA, Blake painted this image which is probably one of my all time favourite paintings by him. I'd like to have a print of this in my own house someday, where else but in the dining room?
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A Mad Tea Party at Watts Tower (1968 and 1992)
Following on from the oil painting, Blake was later commissioned to paint 8 watercolours for a special edition of Alice Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There (1970). An edition that I would LOVE to get my hands on.
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['and to show you I'm not proud, you may shake hands with me!'] [ 'and the two knights sat and looked at each other without speaking']
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['But isn't it old!' Tweedledum cried] [ 'It isn't manners for us to begin, you know' said the Rose]
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['For instance now, there's the King's messenger'] [Just at this moment, somehow or other, they began to run]
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[So Alice picked him up very gently] ['Well, this is grand!' said Alice]
All images were scanned from Peter Blake: A Retrospective, 2007
Now, I feel a bit silly having to admit that I've never read Alice through the Looking glass, well nor the original actually. Oh man, I've let myself down after all this artsy talk but I've only ever watched Disney's Alice in Wonderland. Um, street cred? me? I've never had any in the first place....

56 comments:

  1. I have no street cred as I say I like art but I didn't even take time out to find who did that Beatle's cover... Oh well! I know now ;) His ATTLG paintings are so interesting: I find the story quite dark actually even though I have not read the original story in its entirety either. Bit scary for the little 'uns...just like those Disney films. Have you noticed that? Hmmm.. I'm off to a few musuems and galleries on friday so your post has whetted my appetite!=D

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  2. This was lovely..we love you just the way you are..great post!

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  3. So cool. Just what I needed today. I need to read Alice in Wonderland too.

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  4. What a great artist. These are amazing!

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  5. the art looks pretty amazing! I read Alice in Wonderland for uni.. it's pretty interesting.. haven't read looking through the class. I think the play on words would give me a headache :P

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  6. Great work by a great artist! I love the portrait of the girl in the floral dress.

    Haha. I've never read Alice through the looking glass either. Street cred? Zero.

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  7. Lovely pictures. I don't think I ever read Alice through the looking glass either, I was more of a Swallows and Amazons kind of a girl.

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  8. wow, i can't believe he received no royalties from the album cover...it's such a timeless piece- and it's used everywhere! poor man. Though his mad tea party painting is incredible. I have to confess though, the Humpty scares me a lot! x

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  9. LOVE the second photo!!xx

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  10. I'm not too familiar with his later work, so thank you for sharing these!!!! They are really beautiful.

    - darwin

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  11. As if he only got £200 that's insane! A Mad Tea Party is superb x

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  12. Hi my dear-what a wonderful post and these pictures are amazing, thanks for sharing!! xx

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  13. Lovely images, the Beatle's cover is so iconic, I can't believe he only got £200 for it!

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  14. what a lovely post this is. wonderful artwork .
    I think the second and third one is my favorite.
    wish i had something like this hanging on my wall.
    Hope you're having a good week darling
    xx

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  15. These are fab! I have never seen any of his other work, will go and have a look now :)

    Maria xxx

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  16. What a wonderful post! I just love the Beatles album cover. It's crazy it cost so little!

    x
    www.lostinthehaze.com

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  17. So inspiring!

    Love Grace.

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  18. I'm clueless when it comes to Art too but I can appreciate the paintings. It's very childlike and fun :)

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  19. I am completely in love with this post!!! Thank you very much for visiting my blog and for your sweet comment!

    Kisses,
    Annabelle
    http://vivaluxury.blogspot.com

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  20. What amazing artwork. I always loved the Sgt Pepper artwork but I had no idea who had made it, or what other amazing things he had done!

    Thanks for letting me know!

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  21. beautiful pieces - thanks for sharing!! x

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  22. wow, those are stunning. while Alice and Wonderland stuff creeps me out, but it's still really amazing artwork. the fact that they are watercolor blows my mind.

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  23. WOW,I am totally in love with this post!!!Thanks for sharing!
    http://chiccastyle.blogspot.com/

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  24. Don't worry, I've still yet to read the Alice books so I'm with you! And thanks for the comment, I'm glad you like the photos :) xxx

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  25. Oh wow, I forgot how much I love Peter Blake, especially the alice pictures, and who obvs sergeant peppers lonely heart club album cover...icon! love the blog by the way...newest follower :D xxxxx

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  26. Wow, his work is magnificant! I've only ever seen the Beatles album cover though, so it's nice to put a name to the art work:)

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  27. I LOVE his work, poor ripped-off sod!

    Cx

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  28. very very beautiful draws!! I love all of them.. I can't choose, sorry!

    xx

    Have a nice weekend :D

    www.sickbytrend.com

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  29. I hadn't heard of Peter Blake before but his work is beautiful! I loved the alice in wonderland watercolours. You should definately read the original alice and wonderland its much better without all the Disney Americanizations! xx

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  30. Amazing work. That Beatles cover is awesome, so pretty!


    Camila F.

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  31. So lovely!! Great work :-)

    My Blog
    xoxo Michaela

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  32. your art posts are always so nice! Poor Blake, getting paid only 200 pounds! haha. I agree, his A Mad Tea... painting is great! You should read the book if you have the time, it's wonderful.

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  33. Each of these I loved. Great way to do your artful post! Blake has lovely pieces. -xxoo
    Madison
    Ladyofashion

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  34. i really enjoyed this post. i always wish i'd studied art history, so interesting.

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  35. completely gorgeous - I also highly recommend tracking down Australian artist Charles Blackman's Alice in Wonderland series. His wife was blind and listening to Alice in Wonderland on audio books - he heard them too and was inspired to do the series in the most magical blues and dream link brushtrokes - amazing.
    PS: read the books, they're classics for good reasons;)

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  36. So beautiful, I love these and this is a very interesting post. I hope you are well Winnie.

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  37. You don't need street cred to appreciate good art! :) I love his work tho! Thanks for this!

    http://samalamode.blogspot.com

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  38. More Art History posts please! I really enjoyed this introduction to Peter Blake. I kinda adore how photographic his eye is. The paintings read like photos to me.

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  39. I attended a talk by Blake and we were banned from mentioning Sgt. Pepper!

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  40. Wow, absolutely fantastic!!

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  41. I learnt so much from this post! love his work, I can't believe he got a one off fee for such an iconic album cover! haha x

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  42. these are so beautiful, i love his work. i think my favourite is the little girl in a kimono! x

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  43. these are so beautiful, i love his work. i think my favourite is the little girl in a kimono! x

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  44. oohh, i love the first one of the little girl especially. haha and no worries about your street cred. to be honest, i'm not the hugest fan of through the looking glass anyway (from what i can remember). i should give it another chance, though. anyway, beauuutiful paintings! glad you shared (:

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  45. Really unique and interesting post!

    www.beckydazzler.com

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  46. The art looks really nice. You should Through the Looking Glass its a really short read.

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  47. How cool - I love the Alice and Wonderland pieces. Don't see the Disney version unless you're up for it because it doesn't hold true to the book. I did like the Tim Burton version!

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  48. Love the art! :o)

    Thanks for visiting my blog! :o)

    -Samantha

    http://thisfashionista.blogspot.com

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  49. the pictures here are sooo uniqueee !!
    i love how bold the painting strokes are <3


    www.glisters and blisters.com

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