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Side-Show by Peter Blake

Petersburg Press

Color Woodcut


Edition Size: 100

Sheet Size: 12 x 9.9 inches


Condition: Excellent

Details — Click to read

Five wood engravings titled Tattooed Man, Bearded Lady, Midget, Fat Boy and Giant; with title sheet as published. Printed on Japanese Tonosawa handmade paper, each print signed by the artist lower right in pencil; numbered 29/100 lower left in pencil. Each print is presented in a folder; the set contained in a canvas portfolio tied with suede lace.

Drawing from postcards, magazines, posters and other printed ephemera, Blake made each print after photographs of circus sideshow performers. The intimate scale and format of this portfolio are rarely found in Pop artworks. The organic quality of the wood carving, and the fine, translucent paper, evince a style apart from Blake’s typically colorful and graphic works.

The image field on each print is bordered by a thin black frame, strengthening the connection between Blake’s prints and the photographs from which he drew inspiration. Yet these prints function differently than photographs: Blake’s fine line work and attention to detail imbues his subjects with humanity and tenderness. The performers are documented in aristocratic poses – sitting comfortably, standing proudly, or in regal profile.

“Midget” depicts a small woman standing by a large dog, only reaching its head, while a tall woman looks on. Both figures are smartly dressed, with shiny boots, and the smaller woman’s hair tied back in a scarf. Exchanging smiles, they seem to share a joke. A “Tattooed Man” crosses his arms, staring straight at the viewer, unflinching. “Giant” features a tall man in a top hat. He hoists a boy up with his left hand, grinning in front of draped curtains, probably a tent at the fair. In “Fat Boy” a corpulent boy sits wide-kneed in a low chair. He glances to the side, neatly combed hair and black boots gleaming. The last print, “Bearded Lady”, resembles a cameo in profile. A thick-bearded woman is draped in necklaces and adornments, against a medium grey background.

Copies of this portfolio are in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; MoMA, New York; British Museum, London; and British Council, London.

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The Artist

Peter Blake

Peter Blake was born Peter Thomas Blake in England. He is a famous English pop artist. Blake was personally educated at the Gravesend Technical College School of Art and the Royal College of Art in London. Peter Blake is known mainly for both painting and printmaking. Without a doubt, one of the most renowned of all his works, is no other than for the co-creating of the sleeve design that went along with the Beatles album called Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. It was during the late 1950s, that Peter did become one of the very best known, amid all of the British pop artists.

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