The Art of Bob Peak – Book Review

After what feels like a painfully long wait for a definitive career retrospective on one of America’s best known illustrators, The Art of Bob Peak is finally here and this heavy-weight coffee table book packs it’s near 400 pages full of everything us devoted fans could possibly ask for.

Bob Peak is recognised first and foremost for his work in the movie business, having created iconic images for Apocalypse Now, Superman, Rollerball, My Fair Lady, Excalibur and the Star Trek Series. Peak was among a small group of artists working in movie advertising that had the ability to produce images that will forever be intertwined with your memories of each film and elevate the humble poster to part of the popular culture; sadly something no longer considered important among marketing ‘gurus’. But there was a lot more to Bob Peak besides movie posters and art historian Fred Taraba kicks things off with an introduction into his early years working as part of the Chaite Studio in the 1950s producing advertising illustrations for clients such as Coca Cola and Chrysler. The book continues into the following chapters; Editorial, Fashion, Movies, Music, Automobile Design, Sports, Travel, Time Magazine, TV Guide and Fine Art, with each chapter offering a testament to Peak’s unique skill, confident sense of design, colour, composition and will to experiment to push his art forward.

A surprise to me was his work designing cars, particularly the concept cars for Ferrari and Ford. The book describes Peak’s passion for sports cars that equalled that of his art, posing a difficult question as to whether he should continue on a career path in automobile design or stick to commercial illustration. We can be thankful that he ultimately chose illustration, but you can’t help but wonder what might have made it onto the production line if he went the other way.

Celebrity fans and peers including Drew Struzan, Frank Darabont, Jeff Bridges, Stanley Mouse, Leonard Nimoy, William Stout, David Downton and Steven Spielberg contribute their thoughts and appreciation for Peak’s work in a long-awaited tribute to one of America’s (if not the world’s) most important contemporary artists. I suspect this one will sell out fast, so if you can, I urge you to pick up a copy. Essential.

The Art of Bob Peak – By Tom Peak
Peak Books / Art Works Fine Art Inc
Hardback 392 pages
28 x 31 x 4 cm