Saturday, April 19, 2008

Bob Peak in Iran

David Apatoff generously provided me with all the scans from this 1964 Sports Illustrated series by Bob Peak. I thought it would be a shame not to share them with you now, while we have just spent a week looking at Peak's early career. For those who are still unconvinced that Peak was much more than a 'photo tracer', these stunning illustrations should certainly prove otherwise.

In his article in Illustration magazine #6, Thomas Peak, the artist's son, writes:

"Bob’s relationship with Sports Illustrated also began in the ’60s after making contact with Richard Gangel, the longtime art director for the magazine. [He had] the opportunity to travel extensively while covering a variety of high profile — and sometimes exotic — sporting events. One of these memorable experiences came in 1964 when he was commissioned to go on safari with the Shah of Iran as they hunted for ibex (mountain goats)."

"Before leaving for the trip, Bob had to take horseback riding lessons in order to be properly trained for the seventeen day journey. Upon arriving in Iran, Bob soon learned that the entire trip was intended to be ridden bareback. However, after several discussions with the leaders of the hunting party, he convinced them to allow him the use of a saddle. Even still, Bob found it hard to keep up with the pace of the riders, and found himself falling further and further behind."

"Worse yet, his companions never looked back to see where he was or whether he was following along. After a successful hunt, Bob was urged to take part in the traditional ritual of draining and drinking the blood of the slain ibex. Not wanting to offend the Shah, he took sips of the blood, and then got sick behind a bush afterwards."

"When the group slept at the palace overnight, Bob found it hard to sleep due to the persistent crunching noises he heard all around him. When he asked one of the party members what the cause of the noise was, he was told that it was the sound of termites eating their way through the palace walls."

"Upon returning to America, Bob came down with dysentery and was hospitalized. Nonetheless, he appreciated the opportunity to go wherever Sports Illustrated would send him over the years."

* I have many people to thank for assisting me with this week's topic: Barbara Bradley, Charlie Allen, David Apatoff, Tom Watson for their advice, opinions, information and scans, and Dan Zimmer for allowing me to excerpt passages from Tom Peak's article in Illustration magazine, which are ©2003, 2008 by Tom Peak, Dan Zimmer and The Illustrated Press, Inc., and all artwork © The Estate of Robert Peak.

* NOTE: Because of the tremendous volume of material that was provided to me in preparation for this week's topic, I'll continue to post over the weekend.

There is much, much more on the artist at Bob

My Bob Peak Flickr set.


  1. Thank you Leif and David I enjoyed seeing these illustrations very much. I made a mistake on the first post.

  2. Anonymous4:42 PM

    Leif....these are beautiful illustrations....i 've never seen these before....did david say what month in 1964 these appeared in sports illustrated?,brian....

  3. Anonymous5:07 PM the way,Leif...i especially love Peak's earlier,brian

  4. nice post ...

    ever do a ben shahn post?

  5. Anonymous11:14 PM

    Thanks for sharing with us some nice Bob Peak works of art. I had the good fortune of meeting Bob and spending a few hours with him discussing art back in the 1980's. He had selected me as the winner of the American Artist Magazine Cover Competition in 1981 and then a few years later, I had taken my portfolio to him as an invited panelist presenter at the Art Institute of Philadelphia and placed the cover he had selected as the opening art to the portfolio. He was so gracious and kind to a young aspiring artist and to this day I know that I had been in the presence of greatness and I'm greatly appreciative of that few hours of discussion with him. He had tremendous insight and knowledge about the history of American illustration which was riveting. He was a true American Pioneer that created a world of imagination and brilliance.