Pop Artist, environmentalist, animal and human rights activist and philanthropist, Peter Max, was born in Germany in 1937. His family fled Germany a year later and moved to Shanghai, China, where they lived for the next 10 years. He loved the colors that he witnessed daily at the Buddhist temple across the street from the family home. In 1948, Max and his family traveled through Tibet, which had a profound effect on Max’s artistic development and spiritual growth. While in Tibet, Max was struck by the image of monks in meditation as they carried their walking sticks and chanted by the waterfall at sunset. The image of sunsets appeared frequently in his art. A German scientist and astronomer staying in the same hotel as Max’s family introduced him to cosmology. Later in life, this quest for cosmic knowledge would become spiritual as much as scientific. The family’s journey took them to Israel and on to Paris for several months. While in Paris his mother enrolled him in drawing classes at the Louvre where he was introduced to the vivid colors and style of the Fauves. Eventually the family settled in Brooklyn NY, and he was able to continue his studies at the Art Students League.
In the 1960’s he began his lifelong love of yoga practice and meditation and developed his signature cosmic style. He blended his fascination with Eastern philosophy, astronomy, studies in color, and music that all culminated in his art.
Peter Max has evolved from a successful; graphic designer to visionary Pop artist of the 1960s to a master of Neo-Expressionism. His vibrant and colorful works have become a lasting part of contemporary American culture and are synonymous with the Beatles and the spirit of the ‘60s and ‘70s. He was a major influence on contemporary culture and other Pop artists, including Andy Warhol and Romero Britto. Max created celebrity portraits, environmental posters and commemorative posters for the Apollo II Moon Landing. He printed on his” From the Moon” poster - "We see the Earth in its true light, as a whole and realize that 'We Are All One.'"
Max’s poster art was associated with the spirit of ecology, so in 1971 the U.S.Postal Service commissioned the artist to create the first US environmental postage stamp “Preserve the Environment.”
During his long career, he completed paintings and projects for President Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, and Obama. He was the official artist for the 2006 Winter Olympics, and numerous international sport and music events. The U.S. General Services asked Max to create 235 “Welcome to America” border murals, displayed at entry points between the U.S. and Canada and Mexico, and President Jimmy Carter held simultaneous celebrations in each of the U.S. border towns at the unveiling. Max spearheaded a campaign to restore the Statue of Liberty in 1991 he raised enough funds to reopen the landmark to the public in 1996.Always at the forefront of art and activism his response to September 11, was to create a series of six posters commemorating the Spirit of America, with proceeds benefiting 9/11 charities.
Peter Max’s artistic talents span multiple mediums, including painting, drawing, etching, lithography, serigraphy, collage, and sculpture. His work has been featured in more than 46 museums and numerous galleries worldwide.
“I'm just wowed by the universe.” Peter Max
This week was all about positivity and color. I chose the work of Pop Artist Peter Max to celebrate Valentine's Day. We used Kwik Sticks and markers to create these vibrate pieces inspired by Max's Hearts, and his Sunrise Series. They incorporated both painting and graphic design techniques.