The Surrealistic Art of Peter Max: How His Style Made Him an Art Icon

 In Art & Gallery News, Peter Max

Peter Max is one of the most recognizable artists of the past century, forever securing his place in American art history. His cosmic, surrealistic art designs have appeared everywhere—from college dorm rooms and museum galleries to jumbo jets and cruise ships.

But how can one man be responsible for so many world-famous works of art? According to Gene Luntz, who has worked with Max for over 30 years, “His creativity is unbelievable.”

This new video from Park West Gallery reflects back on Max’s “unbelievable” career, with commentary from Luntz and the artist himself.

The Surrealistic Art of Peter Max: How His Style Made Him an Art Icon

Image: Peter Max © 2017

Max spent his childhood living all over the world—China, Tibet, Israel, France—but his family eventually settled in New York, where he still lives to this day.

After graduating from art school in 1961, Max founded Daly/Max Studios, and his innovative, eye-catching compositions quickly became part of the fabric of pop culture history.

Soon, every college student in the 1960s was hanging Peter Max posters on their walls, while magazines and advertising agencies clamored to commission his work. From General Electric clocks to Wrangler Jeans, with over 70 art licensees, Max art was everywhere.

People instinctively responded to his art, which, to quote Max, is “very surrealistic, except it’s a very ‘up’ Surrealism.”

Once Max’s artwork spread across the globe—appearing on products and television programs everywhere—even Max admits that his Surrealism transformed into “Realism.”

The whole world now recognized that trademark Peter Max style, full of cosmic characters and bright colors. A generation was defined by the colors of his unique artistic perspective, which allowed Max to continually experiment with larger and larger vehicles for his artwork.

The Surrealistic Art of Peter Max: How His Style Made Him an Art Icon

One of Max’s iconic Statue of Liberty artworks in his New York studio.

Max has created official art for The Grammys, the Olympics, U.S. Opens, the 1994 World Cup, Super Bowls, the U.S. Pavilion at the 1992 World’s Fair in Seville, Spain, the stage for Woodstock ‘99, and major events around the world.

His artwork has even graced the fuselage of a Boeing 777 Jet and, in 2013, his cosmic designs debuted on the hull of the Norwegian Breakaway—making the cruise ship possibly the largest work of Peter Max art ever created.

However, despite the often massive scale of his projects, it’s the act of making art that truly fuels Max’s creativity.

The Surrealistic Art of Peter Max: How His Style Made Him an Art Icon

Max’s New York studio.

“I just love the action of putting the brush in the paint and putting it on my canvas,” says Max. “Then I answer with another brushstroke, another one, and then I know how to make something out of it.”

Luntz concurs, “For Peter, a day is not complete unless he can see the fruits of his labors at the end of the day.”

Now, over 50 years after Max’s artistic debut, he’s still creating every day, much to the delight of his generations of fans, young and old.

To collect the art of Peter Max, contact a Park West gallery consultant at (800) 521-9654 ext. 4 during EST business hours or email them at sales@parkwestgallery.com.



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Showing 5 comments
  • Bonnie Hays

    I am an artist on Galveston island, Texas. I want to get a pic of one of my paintimgs to Autumn de Forest. Please advise. Love love

  • Michael

    I am not an artist nor someone whom might be presumed to have an interest in art. I saw my first Max on a cruise ship auction. The pre viewing allowed an up close review. I was looking at a piece titled “rain forest”. This piece and the technique and movement of the brush stroke evoked an emotional response in me. Not sure how else to describe it. I must have stared at that work over the course of that cruise for the equivalent of one of the days at sea. I hope one day to be fortunate enough to own a piece of Peter Max artwork. No other art of any I’ve been exposed to has consistently given me the same feeling. I am captivated.

  • Patty Lazzari

    I am absolutely “flabbergasted in awe” with Peter Max’s works! I fell in love with it as a young mixed up ,crazy girl in my teens! I still have a pair of shorts I bought ,(my very first personal buy). Then was reintroduced on a 5 day Cruise with my late husband and two youngest.My Husband knew this and insisted i don’t pass up the opportunity to purchase my favorites! They still hang in my Favorite room in the house. “thank You Peter, for making my world a FOREVER, Brighter Place!

  • PAOLA Benevento

    I am in Love with Max art , I do have 5 of his pieces. Mostly I love my Lady Liberty, I am passionate about her since I came to America! And saw her from the ship I was on. I wish I could by every one of his works , I like to know how to buy it different place other than s cruise ship?

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Big Band Bash Park West GalleryGary Puckett and the New Union Gap at a Park West VIP event in February 2018. (Left to Right) Park West Gallery director Morris Shapiro, Scott Jacobs, Gary Puckett, Patrick Guyton, VIP auctioneer Jason Betteridge