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

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.

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.

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.

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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