Sir Peter Blake has taken his masterful use of collage to the next level in his recent release of a three-dimensional Circus Collage triptych. Three individual boxes have been created especially to house the three circus scenes, archival inkjet prints painstakingly cut out by hand and displayed as an audience watching a magical circus performance.
For these unique new editions Peter has combined his love of the circus with his characteristic collaged crowds in a three dimensional format.
Peter Blake illustrates his love for the circus employing new techniques with imagery that he is very fond of. He often uses circus figures and performing animals in his work, in particular the in The Paris Suite and the recent Appropriated Alphabets where Alphabet 4 is made up of acrobats forming the shapes of the letters. The works are inspired by Lothar Meggendorfer’s “International Circus” a pop-up book first published in 1887. Three-dimensional pop-up books and books with moveable parts were initially created typically for scholarly books, rather than childrens’ illustrations and it wasn’t until much later that they were used for entertainment. The first recorded example appeared in 1306 in a manuscript for an astrological book, however, it wasn’t really until the 18th century that they became popular as an alternative form of illustration.
The first real pop-up books were made by Lothar Meggendorfer, a German illustrator and writer whom Blake cites as his inspiration for the 3d Circus triptych. They were hugely popular in Germany and Britain during the 19th century. Meggendorfer was first published in 1862 in the Fliegende Blätter, an illustrated comic weekly, and from 1868 in the bi-weekly Münchener Bilderbogen. He also illustrated Neues Struwwelpeterbuch a popular children’s book in the 1890s by Julius Beck. In honour of his superb skill for creating pop-up books, the Movable Book Society awards an annual pop-up book prize named after Meggendorfer himself.
Continuing the tradition of pop-up illustration, Peter Blake has used the ideas from Meggendorfer’s “International Circus” and re-presented them with his own take on the technique. For his Circus, Blake has put together two weird and wonderful audience collages in which the crowds are being entertained by a circus act. These two panels sit either side of a central stage collage, which features a line up of unusual people, and an eclectic orchestra sourced from the Artist’s extensive collection of ephemera. Each custom made box measures 43cm high by 55cm wide and 9cm deep and is available individually as either the Right, Centre or Left part, but when put together the three boxes complete the whole scene of circus merriment. As an edition of just 60 we anticipate these to be a really special collectors’ piece.
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