Influential illustrator Bob Peak had an impact a generation of illustrators and helped define the design and format of modern movie posters.
Active in the middle of the 20th Century, Peak transformed movie posters from staid photographic collages or glamour shots to expressive excursions into a variety of design directions, from detailed rendering to spare graphics to freeform watermedia.
Peak did over 100 movie posters, starting with West Side Story in 1961, and created many memorable posts for movies like Apocalypse Now (above, top left), and the original Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
He also had a number of commercial clients and did editorial illustration for a variety of magazines, including a series of highly regarded covers for Time magazine and TV Guide. In addition he did artwork for gallery display, such as his portrait of Expressionist painter Egon Schiele (above, lower right).
The Society of Illustrators elected him to the Hall of Fame in 1977. Peak also taught at his own school, the Art Students League and Famous Artists School.
Peak’s methods were as varied as his graphic approach, utilizing, oil, acrylic, charcoal and mixtures of them. He chose colors, textures and design approaches that he felt appropriate for the subject.
Bob peak’s son Matthew Peak is also an artist and designer and poster artist of note, and maintains a web site devoted to his father’s work with extensive galleries. [Note: see addendum below.] There is also an official site. Leif Peng has a nice set of Bob Peak illustrations on his Flickr set.
Gallery Nucleus in Southern California is hosting a major retrospective of Peak’s work titled Bob Peak: Father of The Modern Hollywood Poster. The show runs until June 25, 2009.
[Addendum, 12/21/10: The pages on the Matthew Peak site are no longer being maintained. Instead, see the Sanguin Fine Art Gallery, also maintained by Matthew Peak, where you will find Bob Peak’s work in various categories: drawing, illustrations, paintings and pastels, though they are mixed in with three other artists. You can also choose “Bob Peak” in the footer of the page and see a text list of work titles.]