Throughout his long and prestigious career Blake has created several series of works based around the alphabet related to his enduring interest in childhood innocence and nostalgia, and Victorian and Edwardian graphic illustration. Using vintage cards, magazines, books and other found ephemera, he assembles collages that are at once whimsical, humorous and fascinating. He began using found letters and commercial lettering in the 1950s and, as a young artist, allied himself with decorators, sign painters and commercial artists.
The 26-piece silkscreen print series, Alphabet (1991), manifests Blake’s fascination with pop culture through works such as B is for Boxer depicting Joe Louis, world heavyweight boxing champion (1937-1949); I is for Idols, a collage of screen legends, artists and musicians including, Shirley Temple, the Beatles and Marilyn Monroe and U is for Unusual People, which brings together images from an earlier politically incorrect era, of performers, circus acts, Siamese twins and others with rare physical deformities.
The 2007 series An Alphabet is a feast of found imagery and typography brought together by Blake. Each work represents a letter of the alphabet. One of the series’ most vibrant works is 'The Letter F' which includes colourful illustrations of fishes, foxes and fans alongside more unexpected inclusions such as diagrams of fencing manoeuvres, faucets and Fingal's Cave. These excerpts of illustrations, text and typography are broken up by the insertion of small blocks of primary colour and a hand-written list. The range of materials used here reflects the wealth of Blake's personal collection of printed ephemera, the diversity of his interests as well as his attention to minute detail.
Appropriated Alphabets (2013) presents twelve individual alphabets including Appropriated Alphabets 2, a bus ticket collected by Blake from a trip to Utah. Appropriated Alphabets 3 compiled from the first letters of various font names, and Appropriated Alphabets 5, a playful stencil of his favourite typeface of the same name.
Also included is a selection of works in a diverse range of media demonstrating Blake’s use of text and numbers in a wide variety of styles and contexts, including historical alphabet samplers from the artist’s own collection.
‘Godfather of British Pop Art’ Sir Peter Blake’s work crosses all generational divides, and inspires great respect from younger artists such as Damien Hirst, Gavin Turk and Tracey Emin. Knighted in 2002, and with his work represented in major collections throughout the world, Sir Peter Blake truly is a grandee of British Art.