Peter Blake, 'Self Portrait with Badges', 1961. Oil on hardboard, 1743 x 1219 mm, Tate: Presented by the Moores Family Charitable Foundation to celebrate the John Moores Liverpool Exhibition 1979 © the artist/ DACS 2012. Chichester’s Pallant House Gallery
celebrates the relationship between pop music and Pop art this summer with four related shows. Two are monographic exhibitions, concentrating on Peter Blake RA
and Derek Boshier and their close relationships with musical culture. Another display entitled ‘Artist Pop Stars’ showcases the artwork of musician-artists, such as Bryan Ferry and Ian Dury (once a student of Blake’s), while ‘Prints of Darkness’ presents contemporary artists inspired by the psychedelic record covers of the 1960s and 1970s.
Now in his 80th year, Blake is still rarely discussed without reference to his most famous commission: the collaged cover art for The Beatles’ album Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, in which the Fab Four are shown surrounded by figures of high and low culture ranging from Karl Marx and Oscar Wilde to Marilyn Monroe and Bob Dylan. Pallant House’s exhibition puts this iconic icon-populated piece in the context of Blake’s lifelong love of music. The painting Self-Portrait with Badges (1961), on loan from the Tate, for example, shows a young, denim-clad, rock n’ roll-obsessed Blake holding a magazine dedicated to Elvis Presley.
Derek Boshier, 'Bowie 3', 1979. Ink on paper, Courtesy the artist and Flowers Gallery, London. The Academician’s art has continued to drawn on musical sources and, unsurprisingly, musicians have continued to turn to him for images to grace their covers; the show features his designs for bands including The Who (1981), Paul Weller (1995) and Oasis (2006).
Two nearby rooms explore Boshier’s covers for David Bowie and The Clash. By the early 70s the Portsmouth-born artist had moved on from the pop culture-inspired paintings that had brought him to prominence in the early 1960s, alongside Blake and David Hockney RA
at London’s Royal College of Art. Instead, Boshier started to experiment with other media such as photography and film, and his piece for Bowie’s album Lodger (1979) features a photograph of the pop star falling in space. Pallant House displays interesting studies connected to this work, as well as those that relate to Boshier’s cover art for The Clash’s record 2nd Songbook (1979) and Bowie’s subsequent LP, Let’s Dance (1983). If this exhibition piques your interest in a golden age for pop, I also highly recommend listening to Midge Ure’s documentary on Bowie, ‘The Startdust Memories’,
while it’s still on iPlayer this week.
Sam Phillips is a London-based arts journalist and contributor to RA Magazine