This painting is a response to American artist Jasper Johns’ Target paintings of the 1950s. Playing with the concept of fine art, Blake used an archery target purchased from a sports shop – unlike Johns whose painterly technique transforms the target into an ambiguous symbol. Blake questioned whether his version was therefore the more ‘real’ of the two.
The First Real Target, 1961
Enamel on canvas and paper on board 53.7 x 49.3 cm © Peter Blake / DACS 2015
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.