Damien Hirst visits Peter Blake’s studio
Model elephants, collage, and an argument with Joseph Beuys... Damien Hirst visits the studio of Peter Blake, one of the leading figures of British Pop art. The two friends walk through rooms filled with objects amassed over a lifetime of collecting, whilst Blake recounts his entry into art school aged thirteen and the many artists he has encountered over the years. They go on to discuss their shared interests, mutual friends, and the influences that have shaped their art-making.
Sir Peter Blake (b. 1932, Dartford, Kent) is a British painter, sculptor, draughtsman and printmaker. He is known as one of the leading figures of British Pop art. Peter Blake studied at Gravesend School of Art before being accepted into the Royal College of Art, London, where he studied alongside other key British Pop artists, David Hockney, R.B. Kitaj, Joe Tilson, Allen Jones, Peter Phillips and Derek Boshier. After graduating from the Royal College of Art in 1956, Blake began to appropriate pop culture icons and advertising imagery to create homages to the likes of Marilyn Monroe, Brigitte Bardot, Elvis Presley and professional wrestlers. His iconic 1961 'Self-portrait with Badges', in the Tate Collection, shows Blake holding an Elvis album, dressed in American jeans, Converse trainers, and baseball badges; here is the artist as a genuine fan. In other works, he composes assemblages of found objects with humorous allusions to art history and childhood fantasies. In 1967 he designed the iconic album cover for The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band in his distinctive style of collage. Blake continues to be associated with the music world by designing album covers. In 1975 Blake co-founded the Brotherhood of Ruralists, a group of artists who moved to Somerset to paint nature.
After completing his National Service with the R.A.F., he received the Leverhulme Research Award to study popular art and travelled through Europe 1956-7. Blake's first one-man exhibition was held in 1962 at the Portal Gallery, London; solo shows followed at the Robert Fraser Gallery, London (1965) and at Leslie Waddington Prints, London (1969). His first retrospective exhibition was held as early as 1969 at the City Art Gallery, Bristol. Subsequent retrospectives were held in 1973 at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, touring to Hamburg and Brussels and the Tate Gallery in 1983. In 1994 he was made the Third Associate Artist of the National Gallery, London. Peter Blake was elected a member of the Royal Academy in 1981, and was knighted in 2002. In 2007 the Tate Liverpool held a major retrospective of Peter Blake's work which toured to the Museo de Bellas Artes, Bilbao, Spain in 2008. In 2010, Lund Humphries published Peter Blake: One Man Show, a comprehensive monograph by Marco Livingstone.
Peter Blake lives and works in London.
Damien Hirst was born in 1965 in Bristol and grew up in Leeds. He studied Fine Art at Goldsmiths college from 1986 to 1989, and whilst in his second year, he conceived and curated the group exhibition, 'Freeze'. The show is commonly acknowledged to have been the launching point not only for Hirst, but for a generation of British artists.
Since the late 1980s, Hirst has used a varied practice of installation, sculpture, painting and drawing to explore the complex relationships between art, beauty, religion, science, life and death. Through work that includes the iconic shark in formaldehyde, The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living (1991) and For the Love of God (2007), a platinum cast of a skull set with 8,601 flawless pavé-set diamonds, he investigates and challenges contemporary belief systems, and dissects the uncertainties at the heart of human experience. In April 2017, he presented his most complex project to date, 'Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable', across two museum spaces in Venice. Hirst lives and works in London and Gloucester.
Since 1987, over 90 solo Damien Hirst exhibitions have taken place worldwide, and he has been included in over 300 group shows. In 2012, Tate Modern, London presented a major retrospective survey of Hirst's work in conjunction with the 2012 Cultural Olympiad. Hirst's other solo exhibitions include Qatar Museums Authority, ALRIWAQ Doha (2013-2014); Palazzo Vecchio, Florence (2010); Oceanographic Museum, Monaco (2010); Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (2008); Astrup Fearnley Museet für Moderne Kunst, Oslo (2005); Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Naples (2004); Palazzo Grassi and Punta della Dogana, Pinault Collection, Venice (2017), amongst others. His work features in major collections including Tate Collection; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Fondazione Prada; Astrup Fearnley Museum and the Broad Art Foundation. He was awarded the Turner Prize in 1995.
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