This is one of Blake’s most important works. It depicts four children sitting single file on a bench, surrounded by fragments of visual culture that reference balcony scenes, including images from magazines, works of fine art and miscellaneous objects. Blake was still a student at the RCA when he painted this, and his ability to fuse high art and popular culture is already visible.
On the Balcony, 1955-7
One of the leading figures in British pop art, Peter Blake is known for his urban realist subjects. Born in Dartford in 1932, he moved to London to study at the Royal College of Art in 1956. Remaining in the city for more than a decade, Blake was at the cultural centre of vibrant 1960s London. His work fuses high art and popular culture, referencing historical artworks, weekly magazines, children’s stories, movie stars and musicians. His output is famously broad ranging and includes painting, graphic design, collage, book illustration, sculpture and printing. He was the subject of a retrospective exhibition at Tate Britain in 1983.