Venice Fantasies

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Enitharmon Editions, 2009 - Art - 93 pages
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Peter Blake, founding father of British Pop Art, has been producing quirky and inventive collages since the mid-1950s, when he was in his early twenties. His Venice Fantasies, made in his mid-seventies with the same lightness of touch and fresh eye that has distinguished all his work, are marked by his characteristic wry humor and unerring sense of the absurd. Fifty years after his first trip to the most magical of Italian cities, he made his first return visit in 2007, just as he was embarking on this series of affectionate and often frankly preposterous tributes to the city as reconfigured in his imagination. Taking as his cue the Surrealist collages of Max Ernst and others, he engages in the same sort of time travel and unlikely alliances that marked his celebrated cover design for the Beatles LP Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Each of the 21 images takes as its starting-point a photographic view of Venice from the early 1900s, part of a concertina set of tourist postcards, but then subverts it to consistently surprising ends. The city is invaded by penguins and engulfed in icebergs, used as a stage set by dance companies and as a camp site by scout troops, its tranquillity shattered by plane crashes, madly overcrowded regattas, fishermen, motorboat racers and "magic crowds." On the Piazza San Marco, citizens from ancient times rub shoulders at a café with Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse, quintessential American tourists happily consuming their own picnic. Teeming with detail, these humorous and highly entertaining pictures show Blake at his imaginative best.

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About the author (2009)

Peter Blake is one of the best-loved artists of his generation, working as a figurative painter, collagist, sculptor and printmaker. He was born in 1932 in Dartford, Kent, and attended the Royal College of Art in London from 1953 to 1956. By the time he featured in Ken Russell's BBC Monitor film Pop Goes the Easel in 1962 he was already a key and influential member of the Pop Art movement. After living from 1969 to 1979 in Avon, where he and his first wife were founder members of the Brotherhood of Ruralists, he returned to London, marrying the artist Chrissy Wilson. He was elected an RA and a Royal Designer for Industry in 1981, and two years later was awarded the CBE. He was made associate artist at the National Gallery in 1994 and was knighted in 2002. Retrospectives of his work have taken place in Amsterdam (touring to Hamburg, Brussels and Arnhem in 1973-4), at the Tate Gallery in London (1983) and at Tate Liverpool (2007, touring to the Museo de Bellas Artes in Bilbao in 2008). He curated an exhibition titled About Collage for Tate Liverpool in 2000, and his own highly inventive collages have reached an audience of millions, most notably for the cover art of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

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