28 July 2009

Portrait of the Artist in a Hollywood Spanish Interior | David Hockney by Peter Blake, 1965

Portrait of David Hockney in a Hollywood Spanish Interior, Peter Blake, 1965.
Courtesy of the Tate Collection

During the late 1950s, Sir Peter Blake became one of the best known British pop artists. His paintings from this time included imagery from advertisements, music hall entertainment, and wrestlers, often including collaged elements. It was with the 'Young Contemporaries' exhibition of 1961 where he was exhibited alongside David Hockney that he was first identified with the emerging British Pop Art movement.

Portrait of David Hockney in a Hollywood Spanish Interior is based on a photo by Michael Cooper (a prominent 1960s photographer), showing David Hockney standing in front of another Cooper photograph called Spanish Interior. This is presumably the source of Blake’s title; the setting is a Hollywood party. Cooper is best known for his photos of the Rolling Stones. He also collaborated with Blake on the cover for the Beatles’ album Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

According to Blake, the original concept was to create a scene that showed the Sgt. Pepper band performing in a park; this gradually evolved into its final form, which shows the Beatles, as the Sgt. Pepper band, surrounded by a large group of their heroes, rendered as lifesized cut-out figures.

Also included were wax-work figures of the Beatles as they appeared in the early '60s, borrowed from Madame Tussauds.
The wax figures appear to be looking down on the word "Beatles" spelled out in flowers as if it were a grave, and it has been speculated that this symbolises that the innocent mop-tops of yesteryear were now dead and gone.