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At the peak of his powers: the very best of Bob Peak’s poster art

January 19, 2014

bob_peak_superman_apocalypse_now_star_trek_the_motion_picture

Selling the dream: Bob Peak’s all-time classic efforts for Superman, Apocalypse Now and Star Trek: The Motion Picture are just three of his utterly unforgettable movie poster masterpieces

Nowadays, sadly more than 20 years after his death, he’s often referred to as ‘the father of the modern movie poster’ and, genuinely, it’s a title that’s not ill-fitting for the late, the great Bob Peak. Many of his illustrative advertisements for Hollywood flicks of lore are ubiquitous – and have been since they were created back in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s. They’re simply among the greatest and most iconic movie posters ever created.

During those three aforementioned decades, Peak – along with his similarly brilliant rival Drew Struzan – was Tinseltown’s go-to-man for producing engaging, nay captivating posters that would stick long in the memory (sometimes longer than the contents of the movies they advertised). Originally a geology student and after serving his time in the Korean War, he returned to college to study art and, coming out the other end, settled in New York and set himself up as a commercial artist.

Almost immediately he was in demand – as soon as 1961 he was called on to produce  the poster for the blockbusting, Oscar-magnet musical adaptation of West Side Story. And after that, the film poster commissions came his way in an incessant surge – among them, My Fair Lady (1964), Camelot (1967), Rollerball (1975), Superman (1978), Apocalypyse Now (1979) the Star Trek series and more than one Bond film (see ’em all below).

But what was so special about Peak’s posters? Quite simply, marrying avant garde techniques (tracers of light and art deco-esque bold lines) to brilliant realisations of form (verticals and diagonals, triangles and circles) along with an outstanding ability at portaiture and, overall, an imagination overflowing with ideas, he brought a vitality and unforgettableness to poster design which was perfect, in particular, for the genres of the (admittedly) fading big-budget musical and the undoubtedly stratospheric-seeking fantasy adventure.

His work was, however, far from limited merely to cinema. He was actually far more prolific in magazine advertorial and cover images – his artwork for the likes of Time, Cosmopolitan and TV Guide (US) running into the hundreds. Much of these such efforts were far from the intoxicatingly dreamy recipes he cooked up for Hollywood, yet were no less striking; often exhibiting his ability for creating fast, stark, loose and bold work full of movement and interesting perspective.

A stylish man in himself with a love for beautiful, fast cars, Bob Peak was stolen from us all too soon. Were he still around, who knows, maybe the best of today’s blockbusters would be advertised via feasts for the eyes at his hand? One can only speculate – and inspired by the best of his poster art – dream away…

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CLICK on the images for full-size 

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Sci-fi, spy-fi and fantasy

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Superman (1978)

bob_peak_superman bob_peak_superman_unused_art
bob_peak_superman_unused_art_jor-el bob_peak_superman_unused_artwork_clark_kent

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Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)/ Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan (1982)/
Star Trek III: The Search For Spock (1984)/ Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1987)

bob_peak_star_trek_the_motion_picture_poster bob_peak_star_trek_ii_the_wrath_of_khan
bob_peak_star_trek_iii_the_search_for_spock_poster bob_peak_star_trek_iv_the_voyage_home_poster

Star Trek: The Motion Picture – unused artwork

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The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)/ Licence To Kill (1989)

bob_peak_the_spy_who_loved_me_poster bob_peak_licence_to_kill_unused_artwork

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.Excalibur (1981)

bob_peak_excalibur_poster bob_peak_excalibur_unused_art

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Rollerball (1975)/ Santa Claus: The Movie (1985)

bob_peak_rollerball_poster bob_peak_santa_claus_the_movie_advance_one_us_sheet_poster

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Adventures and musicals

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Apocalypse Now (1979)

bob_peak_apocalypse_now_poster bob_peak_apocalypse_now_unused_poster_artwork
bob_peak_apocalypse_now_unused_poster_artwork_2 bob_peak_apocalypse_now_unused_poster_artwork_3

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Every Which Way But Loose (1978)/ Any Which Way You Can (1980)

bob_peak_every_which_way_but_loose_poster bob_peak_any_which_way_you_can_poster

Any Which Way You Can – unused artwork

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The Voyage (1974)/ The Year Of Living Dangerously (1983)

bob_peak_the_voyage_poster bob_peak_the_year_of_living_dangerously_poster

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The Missouri Breaks (1976)/ Pale Rider (1985)

bob_peak_the_missouri_breaks_poster bob_peak_pale_rider_poster

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.My Fair Lady (1964)/ Funny Girl (1968)

bob_peak_my_fair_lady_poster bob_peak_funny_girl_poster

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The Wiz (1978)/ Hair (1979)

bob_peak_the_wiz_poster bob_peak_hair_poster

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Camelot (1967)/ Pennies From Heaven (1981) 

bob_peak_camelot_poster bob_peak_pennies_from_heaven_posterbob_peak_pennies_from_heaven_3 bob_peak_pennies_from_heaven_poster_2

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Advertising, articles and sport

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7 Up/ Winston cigarettes/ Lord West men’s clothing/ Hanging Loose slacks

bob_peak_7-up_ad bob_peak_7_up_2bob_peak_winston_cigarettes bob_peak_lord_west_men's_clothing_adbob_peak_hanging_loose_slacks_1972

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Illustrations for 1964 Cosmopolitan magazine article ‘Never Marry For Love’/
Illustration for spy-themed Life magazine article ‘for boys’ 

bob_peak_1964_cosmopolitan_article_illustration_'never_marry_for_love' bob_peak_1964_cosmopolitan_article_illustration_'never_marry_for_love'_2bob_peak_'photi_spy_illustration_for_boy's_life_magazine

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1984 Olympic Games illustrations for the US Mail postage stamps

bob_peak_official_1984_olympics_hurdles_poster_for_us_postal_service bob_peak_official_1984_olympics_speedskating_us_postage_stamp_design bob_peak_official_1984_olympics_archery_poster_for_us_postal_service bob_peak_official_1984_olympics_torville_and_dean_iceskating_poster_for_us_postal_service

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bob_peak

Bob Peak

(1927-92)

 

All images are copyright Bob Peak and – along with many more – can be found in the coffee-table book The Art Of Bob Peak

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Further reading:

bobpeak.com

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. Simon permalink
    January 19, 2014 7:48 pm

    I suspect you knew I was going to love this post due to the trek posters, but there is so many other fabulous posters and art work here! It is almost a list of some of our cultural influences throughout the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s

    • January 26, 2014 11:56 pm

      Isn’t it, though? And that’s just a selection of some of his best work. There’s a hell of a lot more out there of his magazine/ portrait work. A truly very talented, very imaginative man – and, as you suggested, culturally significant to say the least too!

      Thanks for your comment, Simon, and glad you enjoyed the post… 🙂

      • March 11, 2016 2:46 am

        He was my great uncle. We have his book from his 1984 Olympics work, and he was recently featured in a book about fashion art! Glad you love his work.

  2. April 9, 2014 6:06 pm

    The Flint ones are by Rob McGinnis, George. Hope you don’t mind me saying.

    • April 9, 2014 7:26 pm

      Good point, Dublo – thanks for the save there!

      Not sure in retrospect why I popped them in with Peak’s work – one can tell the difference, after all. Anyway, removed them now. Maybe I should dedicate a future post to McGinnis? 😉

      Cheers, again…

  3. June 5, 2014 10:36 pm

    That’s also a particularly nice Ferrari he’s driving. A fairly rare 275 GTB/4 from around 1967.

  4. June 6, 2014 2:47 pm

    Yes, not surprising the creator of such beautiful artwork would drive around in such a beautiful car, is it? Thanks for your comment, Dublo… 🙂

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