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Peter Blake’s can-do attitude

22 March 2024

Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories.

One of the better news stories Rakewell read this week: that Sir Peter Blake, often called the ‘godfather of British Pop art’, has designed a beer can for Budweiser. The limited edition is available in participating Tescos for the low, low price of £4 for a four-pack. As the press release has it: ‘Just as the Pop Art movement made art accessible to all, Budweiser, brewed to be universally popular, has made high quality beer for all to enjoy since 1876.’ But if the collab does embody the idea of taking an artistic approach to its logical conclusion, then why does Blake look so glum in the press pictures?

Beer lovers and art collectors alike are also invited to register interest in ‘the world’s first fridge frame’, designed to display Blake’s Bud at optimum temperature. Its unveiling will take place in London’s hipster hotspot, Shoreditch – natch.

The Sir Peter Blake x Budweiser Fridge Frame in action. Courtesy Budweiser

Blake is certainly in good company when it comes to collaborating with producers of fine beverages. The vodka company Absolut have been working with artists since the 1980s, when Andy Warhol – who else? – reportedly took a shine to the shape of its bottle and contacted the company. Since then, it has appeared in works and adverts by more than 550 artists. These include the likes of Nam June Paik, Ed Ruscha and Louise Bourgeois, who incorporated an Absolut bottle into a Maman spider sculpture (though gin, so-called ‘mother’s ruin’, might have made a neater choice).

Sometimes, of course, needs must. As Tesco has it: every little helps. In 1982, Joseph Beuys helped fund his 7000 Oak Trees project for Documenta with the 400,000 Deutschmarks he received for advertising the Japanese brand Nikka Whisky (whose product is mercifully free of both fat and felt, as far as Rakewell is aware).

An honourable mention must go to Pamela Anderson, who in this – as in so much – belongs to a class of her own. From 1996, Richard Branson’s Virgin Cola was being marketed as ‘The Pammy’, the silhouette of its glass bottle designed to recall Pamela’s own curves. Might a bottle of pop be next for Blake?

Eat your heart out Andy Warhol: Budweiser x Sir Peter Blake cans. Courtesy Budweiser

Got a story for Rakewell? Get in touch at rakewell@apollomag.com or via @Rakewelltweets.