L12142

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Lot 39
  • 39

Sir Peter Blake, R.A.

Estimate
150,000 - 250,000 GBP
Sold
163,250 GBP
bidding is closed

Description

  • Sir Peter Blake, R.A.
  • Roxy Roxy
  • acrylic, emulsion and collage on hardboard
  • 73 by 68.5cm.; 28¾ by 27in.
  • Executed between 1965-83.

Provenance

Purchased directly from the Artist for £300 by Colin St John Wilson in 1965, the work remained with the Artist, undergoing revisions, until it was delivered in 1983

Exhibited

London, Institute of Contemporary Arts, Summer 1968;
London, Tate Gallery, Peter Blake, 9th February - 20th March 1983, cat. no.62, illustrated, where lent by Colin St John Wilson;
Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Museum, February 1993 - November 2001, on long-term loan from the collection of Colin St John Wilson;
Chichester, Pallant House Gallery, June 2006 - 22nd June 2012, on long-term loan from the Wilson Collection;
Chichester, Pallant House Gallery, Peter Blake and Pop Music, 23rd June - 7th October 2012, where lent from the Wilson Collection.

Literature

Marco Livingstone, Peter Blake, One Man Show, Lund Humphries, Farnham, 2009, p.97, illustrated pl.87.

Catalogue Note

'I probably started going to the wrestling in 1947. There was a place in Bexley Heath near to where I lived called the Drill Hall, and my mother used to go every week with my aunt and her mother, and I would go with them…I loved it immediately'. (The Artist, quoted in Natalie Rudd, Peter Blake, Tate Publishing, London 2003, p.88)

Throughout Blake’s work, there are themes that he has explored, developed, reworked and returned to, often over decades. Individual paintings can often span many years, additions made, images refined. Amidst this incredibly fecund body of invention the group of paintings that are generally grouped as ‘wrestlers’ form a significant and very exciting series. With very few exceptions (Masked Zebra Kid and Kendo Nagasaki), the characters featured are all invented, with Blake creating not just a character, but a set of attributes, a story and even connections to other creations. For anyone familiar with the good guy/villain opposition set up by wrestling promoters, Blake also manages to bring this to the fore, so, for instance, his choice of additional objects for inclusion in the painting of Doktor K.Tortur (Private Collection) was intended to emphasise the perceived ‘nastiness’ of the character.

Roxy Roxy
is one of a small band of female wrestlers who appear in Blake’s work from the mid-1960s, and along with Little Lady Luck (Private Collection), also started in 1965, may be amongst his first. Her persona is of a British wrestler fighting in the USA and elements reflecting both nations are included, with badges, flags and postcards attached, right down to the iconic images of Tower Bridge and the Statue of Liberty and a postcard such as she might have sent to her parents of the Aquitania, the ship on which she had supposedly sailed from Britain to America. There is a real sense of patriotism towards both countries, but Blake intentionally builds a sense of the distance between the subject and the imaginary compiler of the image, drawing in myths and supposition and making it clear that this is a fan’s work rather than of a close friend who would of course be better informed. These deliberate errors, such as some of the badges and the ship itself being too early in date (the Aquitania was scrapped in 1950) and her haircut, which in its first manifestation was bobbed and even after the current ‘restyle’ feels just out of style for the imagined period, were inserted by Blake to unbalance the relationship between the imagined compiler and the subject. By giving works like Roxy Roxy a hint of the shrine, Blake suggests to us different features of the process of stardom, the distance between the persona and the person and the further substantial gulf between the public face of a character and the fan. Of course he extends this even once we remember that Blake has invented his concept of the actual maker of this piece too, leading us to question those basic ‘fine art ‘ precepts of authorship, dating, source and material.
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