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 Peter Max  (1937 - )

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Lived/Active: New York / Germany      Known for: illustrations-sport, psychedelic, pop art

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BIOGRAPHY for Peter Max
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Birth
1937 (Berlin, Germany)
 
Lived/Active
New York / Germany


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Often Known For
illustrations-sport, psychedelic, pop art

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Peter Max is a multi-dimensional artist focused on contemporary events.  When he left art school in the 1960s he began producing, "cosmic imagery . . . that caught on right away, and before you knew it, I got an eight-page cover story in Life magazine."  He explores all media, including mass media as a "canvas" for his creative expression.

His decorative designs are on a Boeing 777 Continental, Dale Earnhardt's #3 Millennium race car, U.S. postage stamps and 235 U.S. border murals.  He created two 155-foot murals for the U.S. Pavilion at the Seville World's Fair in Spain, 12 postage stamps for the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and a 600-foot stage mural for Woodstock 2.  He has also painted for five U.S. presidents, as well as the Beatles, Aerosmith and the Rolling Stones.

After September 11th, 2001 Peter Max began a project by finishing 356 portraits of the firefighters that were lost in the attack.  His portraits were then given to the victims' families.  In addition, from a special request from President George W. Bush, he recently created another 356 portraits for a firefighters' memorial.

Peter Max has worked with oils, acrylics, water colors, finger paints, dyes, pastels, charcoal, pen, multi-colored pencils, etchings, engravings, animation cells, lithographs, serigraphs, silk screens, ceramics, sculpture, collage, video and computer graphics.

He loves to hear amazing facts about the universe and is as fascinated with numbers and mathematics as he is with visual phenomena.

"If I didn't choose art, I would have become an astronomer," states Max, who became fascinated with astronomy while living in Israel, following a ten-year upbringing in Shanghai, China.  "I became fascinated with the vast distances in space as well as the vast world within the atom."

Max's early childhood impressions had a profound influence on his psyche, weaving the fabric that was to become the tapestry of his full creative expression.  He recalls it as a childhood filled with magic and adventure.

European born, Peter Max was raised in Shanghai, China, where he spent his first ten years.  He lived in a pagoda-style house situated amidst a Buddhist monastery, a Sikh temple and a Viennese cafe.  And yet, with all that richness and diversity of culture, he still had a dream of an adventure yet to come in a far-off land called America.

From American comic books, radio broadcasts and cinema shows, young Max formed an impression of the land of Captain Marvel, Flash Gordon, swing jazz, swashbucklers, freedom and creativity.  But the American adventure was far in the future.

At the age of ten, Max with his parents traveled across the vast expanse of China to a Tibetan mountain camp at the foothills of the Himalayas.  Then they journeyed 9,000 feet up to a beautiful, white-turreted hotel in a mountain paradise that seemed like Shangri-La.

After their return to Shanghai, the family left on another voyage of discovery, around India, the continent of Africa, and Israel, where Max studied art with a Viennese "fauve" painter.  It was in Israel that young Max also developed a love and fascination for astronomy.

In 1953, he and his family emigrated to America after a six-month visit to Paris. Though it was a relatively short stay, he enrolled in an art school and absorbed the culture and art heritage of Paris.  At the age of sixteen, he realized his childhood vision and arrived in America.

After completing high school, he continued his art studies at The Art Students League, a renowned, traditional academy across from Carnegie Hall in Manhattan.  There, he learned the rigid disciplines of Realism and developed into a realist painter.

When he left art school, Max had become fascinated with new trends in commercial illustration and graphic arts, from America as well as Europe and Japan.  He decided to try his hand at it, and within a short time, he won awards for album covers and book jackets, which combined his own brand of realism with graphic art techniques.

Max also admired the work of contemporary photographers such as Bert Stern, Richard Avedon, and Irving Penn, which led to his photo collage period, in which he had captured the psychedelic era of the mid '60s.

As the '60s progressed, the photo collages gave way, to his "Cosmic '60s" style, with its distinctive line work and bold color combinations.  It became his signature style.

This new style developed as a spontaneous creative urge, following Max's meeting with Swami Satchidananda, an Indian Yoga master who taught him meditation and the spiritual teachings of the East.

Max was suddenly on numerous magazine covers, including Life magazine, and appeared on national TV.  Max's visual impact on the '60s has often been compared to the influence the Beatles had with their music.

In the 1970s, Max gave up his commercial pursuits and went into retreat to begin painting in earnest.  He submersed himself in his art for several years, and was only induced to come out of retreat on occasion through special commissions by the Federal government agencies: the U.S. Border murals, the first 10 U.S. postage stamp, and projects for the Federal Energy Commission.

For July 4, 1976, Max created a special installation and art book, Peter Max Paints America, to commemorate America's bicentennial.  It was the year Max also began his annual July 4th tradition of painting the Statue of Liberty.  In 1982, Max painted six Liberties on the White House lawn, and then personally helped to actualize the statue's restoration, which was completed in 1986.

In the years that followed, Max developed his new atelier, with a primary focus on paintings, mixed media works and limited graphic editions.  He was primarily focused on concerns of environmental, human and animal rights.

He began a series of works called Better World, and created a painting called I love the World, depicting an angel embracing the planet, inspired by his backstage experience at the Live Aid concert.

In 1989, for the 20th anniversary of Woodstock, Peter Max was asked to create world's largest rock-and-roll stage for the Moscow Music Peace Festival.  Soon after the festival, in October, 1989, he unveiled his 40 Gorbys, a colorful homage to Mikhail Gorbachev, then Premier of Russia.

Prophetically, a few weeks later, Communism fell in Eastern Europe, and Max was selected to receive a 7,000-pound section of the Berlin Wall, which was installed on the Aircraft Carrier U.S.S. Intrepid Museum.  Using a hammer and chisel, Max carved a dove from within the stone and placed it on top of the wall to set it free.

In 1991, Max's one-man retrospective show at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersberg drew the largest turnout for any artist in Russian history.  Over 14,500 people attended!

As a painter for four former U.S. Presidents (Carter, Ford, Bush and Reagan) in 1993, Max was approached by the inaugural committee to create posters for Bill Clinton's inauguration.  He was later invited to the White House to paint the signing of the Peace Accord.

Peter Max also directed his creative energy to important global events and has produced posters for many such events, including Summit of the Americas, Gorbachev's State of the World Forum, and the United Nations Earth Summit, for which he had designed a series of twelve stamps that became the best-selling stamps in U.N. history.  For the U.N.'s 50th anniversary, Max produced an installation of fifty paintings in different color combinations of the landmark United Nations Building.

A lover of music, Max has been designated Official Artist for the Grammys, The 25th Anniversary of the New Orleans Jazz Festival, and the Woodstock Music Festival.

In the sports arena, Max has been the Official Artist for five Super Bowls, The World Cup USA, The U.S. Tennis Open and the NHL All-Star Game.

Always an optimist, Max sees a fabulous new age for the new millennium, filled with enormous possibilities.  He also sees a need for a greater responsibility to our planet, and he is ever ready to serve as the "Global Artist."


Source:
Betty Webb, representing the artist in her writing titled "Gifted", sent December 2003

Biography from RoGallery.com:
Peter Max was born in Berlin in 1937 but his family moved to China when he was still very young.  In fact the young Max would move frequently with his family, learning about a variety of cultures throughout the world while traveling from Tibet to Africa to Israel to Europe until his family moved to the U.S.  In American Max was trained at the Art Students League, Pratt Institute, and the School of Visual Arts, all in New York.  After closing his design studio in 1964, Peter began creating his characteristic paintings and graphic prints.

From visionary pop artist of the 1960's, to master of dynamic neo Expressionism, Peter Max and his vibrant colors have become part of the fabric of contemporary American culture.  In the 1960's Max rose to youthful prominence with his now-famous Cosmic '60s style, a bold linear type of painting which employed Fauvist use of color and depicted transcendental themes.  Peter Max revolutionized art of the 60’s just as the Beatles transformed the music of the decade.  As his expressionistic style evolved, becoming more sensuous and painterly, Max’s unique symbolism and vibrant color palette have continued to inspire new generations of Americans throughout the decades.  Peter Max is a passionate environmentalist and defender of human and animal rights, often dedicating paintings and posters for these noteworthy causes.  He has celebrated our nation's principles of freedom and democracy with his famous paintings of American icons of freedom including Lady Liberty and the American Flag.

Peter Max has received many important commissions including the creation of the first "Preserve the Environment" Postage Stamp commemorating the World's Fair in Spokane, Washington; 235 Border Murals at entry points to Canada and Mexico commissioned by the U.S. General Services; and a painting of each of the 50 states, resulting in a book, Peter Max Paints America  in celebration of the Bicentennial. In 1981 he was invited by President and Mrs. Reagan to paint six Liberty portraits at the White House.  Max has painted for five U.S. Presidents - Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush and Clinton.  Max has exhibited in over 40 international museums and over 50 galleries, worldwide.  His work can be found in many prominent museum and private collections around the world.

In 1981 he painted six liberty portraits for the America President and Mrs. Reagan, and in 1993, his famous ‘100 Clintons’ installation.

Max has had approximately forty museum shows internationally, and more than fifty gallery shows worldwide. His works appear in the prominent collections of many museums, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Biography from American Design Ltd.:
Peter Max was raised in Shanghai, China where he spent the first 10 years of his life.  Young Max formed lasting impressions of Flash Gordon, Capitan Marvel, jazz, creativity, and freedom from American comic books, radio broadcasts, and movies.  Max and his parents traveled through the Tibetan mountains, India, Africa and Israel where Max first studied with a Viennese fauve painter. It was in Israel that Max developed a keen interest in astronomy, a subject that would later impact his artwork.

In 1953, Max and his family moved to the United States, settling in New York City.  After completing high school, Max studied painting at the Art Students League.  He was fascinated with commercial illustration and the graphic arts, and won awards for his album covers and book jackets in his unique style.

During the 1960s, Max worked in his psychedelic photo collage period, which later gave way to his "cosmic" 60s style with its distinctive line work and bold color combinations.  Inspired by his meditative, spiritual teachings, Max's cosmic art captured the imagination of a generation and launched Max into fame and fortune. 

During the 1970s, Max dropped his commercial work and pursued canvas painting in earnest. For the 1976 Bicentennial, Max created the art book Peter Max Paints America, and began his annual tradition of painting the Statue of Liberty.  A lover of music, Max has been designated the Official Artist for the Grammy's, the New Orleans Jazz Festival and the Woodstock Music Festival.


Biography from GallArt.com:
One of the most famous of all living artist's, Peter Max is also a pop culture icon. His bold colors, uplifting images and an uncommon artistic diversity have touched almost every phase of American culture and has inspired many generations.

Peter Max has painted for six U.S. Presidents and his art is on display in Presidential Libraries and in U.S. Embassies. Max has painted our Lady Liberty annually since America's Bicentennial and in 2000 a collage of his Liberties adorned over 145 million Verizon phone books.

Max has been named an official artist of the 2006 U.S. Olympic Team at the Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy. He has also been Official Artist of 5 Super Bowls, World Cup USA, The World Series, The U.S. Open, The Indy 500, The NYC Marathon and The Kentucky Derby.
In 2002 Abrams Books publishes what would become one of the best-selling art books ever! "The Art Of Peter Max"

"Just as Toulouse-Lautrec captured the imagination of late 19-century Paris with his posters, Max led the international youth movement of the Sixties into a new visual culture." ~ Charles Riley III

Max Art Pops Up Everywhere!

His art has flown the skies on a Continental Airlines Boeing 777 Jet. His art installations include an amazing 600-ft stage for the Woodstock Music Festival, a giant mural for the Winter Olympics and 10-ft guitars for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Biography from Acquisitions Of Fine Art:
Max's art work was a part of the psychedelic movement in graphic design. His work was much imitated in commercial illustration in the late 1960s and early 1970s.He works in multiple media, including oil, acrylics, water colors, fingerpaints, dyes, pastels, charcoal, pen, multi-colored pencils, etchings, engravings, animation cels, lithographs, serigraphs, ceramics, sculpture, collage, video, xerox, fax, and computer graphics. He also includes mass media as a "canvas" for his creative expression.

Max often uses American symbols in his artwork and has done paintings and projects for presidents Ford, Carter, Reagan and Bush. Recently he created his 100 Clintons, a multiple portrait installation whose images were used through the four days of the Presidential inauguration. More recently, Max completed his fourth Grammy-Award poster, redesigned NBC television's symbolic peacock, was appointed as the official artist for the World Cup USA 1994 and created a "Peace Accord" painting for the White House to commemorate a historic signing.

Biography from Fineartgasm.com:
Known throughout the world and a household name in America, Max is known for his new age style cosmic imagery and multi-colored blends.  During the late 60's and early 70's his colorful art reached millions of people and he won numerous major awards for his work.  His paintings, drawings and limited edition graphics have been exhibited in major museums throughout the world.

Peter Max was born in Berlin, Germany, and spent his childhood in Shanghai.  From China, the family went to Tibet for a year, and then on to Israel.  His family's odyssey continued to Paris, and finally, at the age of 16, Max arrived in the United States.  He began his art studies in New York at the Art Student's League and continued at the Pratt Institute and School of Visual Arts.

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