Artists

Independent Group and Pop

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Provenance

Richard Smith
Knoedler Gallery, London
Private Collection, UK

Exhibitions

London, Institute of Contemporary Arts, Five Painters, 9 January - 8 February 1958, cat no.13, titled as Koochie Dancers, 2
Bristol, City Art Gallery, Peter Blake, 17 November - 13 December 1969, cat no.20
Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum, Peter Blake, British Council, 28 September - 18 November 1973, cat no.8, touring to:
Hamburg, Kunstverein, 8 December 1973 - 27 January 1974, cat no.9, illus b/w
Brussels, Palais des Beaux-Arts, 12 February - 10 March 1974
Arnhem, Gemeentemuseum, 23 March - 5 May 1974
London, Tate Gallery, Peter Blake, 9 February - 20 March 1983, cat no.24

Literature

Robert Melville, Architectural Review, April 1958, p278
Michael Compton, Nicholas Usherwood, Carl Haenlein, Peter Blake, Retrospective, Kestener-Gesellshaft Hannover, 1983, p26
Marina Vaizey, Peter Blake, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, 1986, p31
Marco Livingstone, Peter Blake: One Man Show, Lund Humphries, London, 2009, p29 and p87, illus colour pl 29

Description

This painting was one of a group of six exhibited by Blake in the 1958 exhibition Five Painters, held at the I.C.A., London, which were shown under the collective title The Circus. This group included two other very well-known pictures Loelia, World's Most Tatooed Lady, 1955 and Siriol She-Devil of Naked Madness., 1957. The following is taken from critic Robert Melville's review of this show: 'The most original of these young painters is Peter Blake. He is so unmistakably and unshakably himself that his pictures do not look like anyhting else that has ever been called a work of art, and he will probably have to wait much longer than others for a one-man show. Most of his pictures are painted on bits of scraped planking, they usually depict circus people in a manner somewhat reminiscent of Victorian posters, and the painted titles are part of the image....The painted image is partly scrubbed out, as if to give the look of an ancient panel, and then bits of clothing are 'restored' with coloured tin foil. The clash between the paint and tinfoil recreates in a remarkable way the noise, the garish lights and taudry finery. I have made them sound like funny little ingenuities, and in a sense that's what they are, but they are also desperately sad, for Blake has perceived his freaks as battered saints, and they stare out at us with unbearable passivity, as if they were representatives of the insulted and condemned, raised to frowsy godhead. Blake scrutinizes the human void as sharply as Samuel Beckett, but with more compassion'