Blake was always at the forefront of the Pop art movement; today, he’s often referred to as the “Godfather of British Pop Art.” But just as it was becoming an international sensation at the end of the 1960s, the artist moved on. Along with Haworth and their daughter, he relocated from London to a small village near Bath. Soon, the wrestlers and strippers of his earlier works were replaced by fairies and mythology, dreams and fantasy.
Together with six other painters who had made similar transitions to the British countryside, Blake formed the “Brotherhood of Ruralists”—an artistic group whose stated aims were, as he wrote in 1978, “to paint about love, beauty, joy, sentiment, and magic.” Blake’s Pop art had never been as cynical as American artists like Warhol, but during this period he embraced a unabashedly joyous and idyllic worldview at odds with the then-current modes of artistic production.
Although these works were widely panned by critics in their time, his 1983 Tate
retrospective boasted record-breaking attendance—cementing him as one of the most significant living British artists. His relevance was reinforced by the relationships he soon forged with many of the
. “My generation,” noted
in a talk at the Tate
, “all of us, absolutely, from
, we all adore Peter. And we adore his work, because Peter, right from the beginning—this is like maybe 15, 20 years ago—made an immediate connection with all of us.”
While Blake’s legacy may forever be dominated by his album cover, he’s taken a firm stance in defining the twilight years of his career. “Usually other people decide when your Late Period is or was, but rather than wait for anyone else, I’ve decided very consciously to have mine now,” he told
in 2006. “I know I’ve done pretty much everything it was reasonable to expect, and maybe sometimes I’ve done a little more than that.”