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Monday, 2 April 2018

Painting of the Month (81) April 2018: Peter Blake

Peter Blake, born 1932, is a British artist who was a leading figure in the Pop Art movement in the 1960's. He is most well-known for co-creating the sleeve design for The Beatles album Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band in 1967 and this post is really about that.
 Blake's iconic sleeve design for Sgt Pepper
Probably the most well-known album design ever made.
Io Herodotus's explanation of the people featured on the sleeve. 
Here is a list of those people followed by a list of some who were left out. You may notice that there is not a perfect correspondence between the two pictures because changes were constantly being made:
Top row
(1) Sri Yukteswar Giri (Hindu guru)
(3) Mae West (actress)
(6) W. C. Fields (comedian/actor)
(8) Edgar Allan Poe (writer)
(9) Fred Astaire (actor/dancer)
(10) Richard Merkin (artist)
(11) The Vargas Girl (by artist Alberto Vargas)
(12) Leo Gorcey (image was removed from cover, but the space remains between "The Vargas Girl" and "Huntz Hall")
(13) Huntz Hall (actor)
(14) Simon Rodia (designer and builder of the Watts Towers)
(15) Bob Dylan (singer/songwriter)

Second row
(16) Aubrey Beardsley (illustrator)
(17) Sir Robert Peel (19th century British Prime Minister)
(18) Aldous Huxley (writer)
(19) Dylan Thomas (poet)
(20) Terry Southern (writer)
(21) Dion DiMucci (singer/songwriter)
(22) Tony Curtis (actor)
(23) Wallace Berman (artist)
(24) Tommy Handley (comedian)
(25) Marilyn Monroe (actress)
(26) William S. Burroughs (writer)
(27) Sri Mahavatar Babaji (Hindu guru)
(28) Stan Laurel (actor/comedian)
(29) Richard Lindner (artist)
(30) Oliver Hardy (actor/comedian)
(31) Karl Marx (political philosopher)
(32) H. G. Wells (writer)
(33) Sri Paramahansa Yogananda (Hindu guru)
(34A) James Joyce (Irish poet and novelist) – barely visible below Bob Dylan(34) Anonymous (hairdresser's wax dummy)
Third row
(35) Stuart Sutcliffe (artist/former Beatle)
(36) Anonymous (hairdresser's wax dummy)
(37) Max Miller (comedian)
(38) A "Petty Girl" (by artist George Petty)
(39) Marlon Brando (actor)
(40) Tom Mix (actor)
(41) Oscar Wilde (writer)
(42) Tyrone Power (actor)
(43) Larry Bell (artist)
(44) David Livingstone (missionary/explorer)
(45) Johnny Weissmuller (Olympic swimmer/Tarzan actor)
(46) Stephen Crane (writer) – barely visible between Issy Bonn's head and raised arm
(47) Issy Bonn (comedian)
(48) George Bernard Shaw (playwright)
(49) H. C. Westermann (sculptor)
 (50) Albert Stubbins (English footballer)
(51) Sri Lahiri Mahasaya (guru)
(52) Lewis Carroll (writer)

Front row
(54) Wax model of Sonny Liston (boxer)
(55) A "Petty Girl" (by George Petty)
(56) Wax model of George Harrison
(57) Wax model of John Lennon
(58) Shirley Temple (child actress) – barely visible behind the wax models of John and Ringo, first of three
ppearances on the cover
(59) Wax model of Ringo Starr
(60) Wax model of Paul McCartney
(61) Albert Einstein (physicist) – largely obscured
(62) John Lennon holding a french horn
(63) Ringo Starr holding a trumpet
(64) Paul McCartney holding a cor anglais
(65) George Harrison holding a piccolo
(65A) Bette Davis (actress) – hair barely visible on top of George's shoulder
(66) Bobby Breen (singer)
(67) Marlene Dietrich (actress/singer)
(68) Mahatma Gandhi was planned for this position, but was deleted prior to publication
(69) An American legionnaire[2]
(70) Wax model of Diana Dors (actress)
(71) Shirley Temple (child actress) – second appearance on the cover

People excluded from the cover
(12) Leo Gorcey – was modelled and originally included to the left of Huntz Hall, but was subsequently removed when a fee of $400 was requested for the use of the actor's likeness.[5][6]
(54A) Unidentified laughing figure - barely visible
(56A) Sophia Loren (actress) - behind the Beatles waxworks
(57A) Marcelo Mastroianni (actor) - behind the Beatles waxworks
(65A) Timothy Carey (actor) - was modelled and originally included but largely obscured by George Harrison in the final picture
(68) Mahatma Gandhi – was modelled and originally included to the right of Lewis Carroll, but was subsequently removed According to McCartney, "Gandhi also had to go because the head of EMI, Sir Joe Lockwood, said that in India they wouldn't allow the record to be printed".
Jesus Christ – was requested by Lennon, but not modelled because the LP would be released just over a year after Lennon’s Jesus remark.

(C) Adolf Hitler – was modelled and was visible in early photographs of the montage, positioned to the right of Larry Bell, but was eventually removed when his inclusion was considered offensive. 


Parnassus said...

Hello Bazza, Thanks for all the information on this iconic image. It is one of the greatest of the Victorian-Psychedelic fusion works so popular in the 1960's. It is such an odd image, and so fraught with potential meaning (although perhaps hard to pin down) that anyone's real or potential inclusion or omission seems sublimely important.

By the way, my brother used to watch those terrible Leo Gorcey movies, so I remember them. I see that he died in 1969, so he did not have much time to ponder his exclusion from immortality.

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

That was fun matching up the people to their pictures. I bet Leo Gorcey’s descendants are very sad that he made that $400 bad decision.

bazza said...

Jim: Yes, I think the importance of inclusion (or not) was fairly arbitrary. There were plenty of people whom the various Beatles admired but also some very obscure and inexplicable ones. The design remains an interesting signifier of the sixties though!

bazza said...

Arleen: I never knew Leo Gorcey's name but when I checked him out I knew straight away who he was. Yes, he turned down the chance of near immortality!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Bazza - thanks so much for this and for the interesting history - which I knew nothing about ... I will definitely be back to read more about the sleeve and the links from your information - which I'll look into ... so glad you gave us the details ... cheers Hilary

bazza said...

Hilary: I have often said that I write this Blog for myself and I am delighted if others enjoy it too! This post is something of real interest to me as were the Beatles generally.

Hels said...

It is like finding a list of travellers on the Titanic.. long gone, but fixed forever in history.

Parnassus said...

P.S. I love Hels' comment--she stated the impact of this image so beautifully. --Jim

bazza said...

Hels & Jim: Quite so, that's a powerful metaphor. It's almost ancient history now!

David said...

Hi bazza,
As well as having a copy of the album (on CD, not vinyl I'm afraid!), I have a poster of Blake's cover art on my bedroom wall. It's interesting to know now the names of all those included in the picture. I've spent years wondering who the less well known ones were!
Best Wishes,

bazza said...

David: So have I although some are quite obvious. Also, some of the more obscure ones are people I never heard of before!

Sherry Ellis said...

Shirley Temple is on that? How very interesting. Thanks for identifying all the people in the cover art.

bazza said...

Sherry: I think the Beatles were referencing all of their childhoods!

S Simmonds said...

Just having a quick dive into your blog before the train pulls in. Great to see you're still going strong. Keep it up!

bazza said...

Hi Stephen. Great to hear from you. We are thinking of returning to Oz next year!
I hope you and the family are all well.

S Simmonds said...

Love to see you and Leah again. The kids are now teenagers in the tail end of high school, shy but adorable.

bazza said...

I will be sure to contact you Stephen! Your kids were charming when we met them.