Peter Blake pulled no punches at his private view at The Arts Club. Placing pictures of The Queen and Meghan Markle (now Duchess of Sussex) he showed considerable cheek. Blake has been described as the godfather of British Pop art. It was he who produced the Beatles album cover, the iconic Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Since then Blake has moved with the times.
Some may consider the juxtaposition of the Queen and Meghan as a provocative move on his part – but isn’t that what artists are for? The two royal images hung uncomfortably one above the other, Meghan on top.
The Queen was painted in celebration of the Diamond Jubilee. And Blake had created his image of the Duchess of Sussex for Vogue magazine in 2018. That was the year she and Prince Harry married.
Blake is a fan of the royal family with the late Prince Philip among his favourites. Blake didn’t appear at the Arts Club for his own exhibition, so he couldn’t answer back, but the question guests asked eachother was: what made him such a royal fan?
However, Blake has an even greater idol. Marilyn Monroe, the iconic, tragic actress appears in many of his works of art. Like the other pop artist Andy Warhol, Marilyn has proved one of his most bankable ‘portrait sitters’.
Celebrities are a big pull at shows and exhibitions. Peter Blake’s fascination with Marilyn Monroe mirrors that of the public’s. Here is one of his installations at Masterpiece, James Hyman Gallery.
Shrine to Marilyn Monroe, in a Texas Diner, 1990, is a kitch collection of prints, tickets, objects such as vases and, a jacket and Coca Cola posters. It’s several meters long and for sale at £250,000 or $300,000. It took pride of place at the London Masterpiece show in July 2022, which features the best of the world’s top galleries.
The price tag on one of his collages at the Arts Club, characters picked from the worlds of literature, art, music and unknowns, says £19,000 (or $26,000). Guests at the private view came armed with their credit cards.
Peter Blake: I remember seeing all the Disney films
Blakes showed other pieces. His more recent series of portraits, painted during lockdown pulled the crowds too. His Girl with a Disney Tattoo has a distinct Scandi title (cue the books and film).
“I’ve always loved Disney,” says Blake. “My mother used to take me to the cinema when I was a baby and I can remember seeing all the early Disney films.” His Disney characters feature young people whose facial expressions range from joyous to wistful. The spectator will have to decide whether Blake is suggesting a time of innocence or malevolence.
One of the most beautiful Clubs in London
Sadly there was no Peter Blake present at the Private Viewing of his pictures including The Queen and Meghan. But still lots of glamours guests and buyers made it to the Mayfair club. And the building is truly special – it has been renovated beautifully with the best-looking and most inviting restaurant in London, in our view. And interestingly, it was home to the Danish Club for some time before it was taken over and refurbished. The club that was once a charming, tired boho watering hole has become one of London’s ritziest clubs counting Oscar-winner Gwyneth Paltrow amongt its regulars.