Known for his psychedelic style, pop artist Peter Max rose to fame and became an indelible part of our American culture in the 60’s with his colorful ‘groovy’ artworks which captured the spirit of love, peace and ecology. Today the artist, who is still creating, celebrates his 80th birthday.
Pop Artist Peter Max Turns 80
Peter Max represented the imagination of the ‘60s generation. With much of his work appearing on TV shows and magazine covers, Max was considered the visual arts counterpart to the music of the Beatles (and is often mistaken as the illustrator/animator for Yellow Submarine which was actually Heinz Edelmann).
The prolific artist is STILL painting at the age of 80 and continuing to churn out pop art, such as the poster for this year’s US Open and the cover for the August/September 2017 Issue of AARP (The American Association of Retired Persons).
“Art and creativity keep me young. I feel like I just got out of art school. I paint and draw every day, and continue to publish new prints and posters. When I look back at the many works I have created over the years, it boggles my mind—all those drawings and paintings—and more than 800 different poster printings and print editions! My art career has been one gigantic birthday gift.” – Peter Max
A little History
In the spring of 1970, Max was given his first one-man museum exhibition at the de Young Museum in San Francisco. The exhibition attracted more than 10,000 visitors the first week and resulted in 36 additional museum exhibitions across America, mounted by the Smithsonian Institute Exhibition services.
Two decades later, in 1991, Max mounted a 25-year retrospective at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, by special invitation of Mikhail Gorbachev.
More than 14,500 visitors attended opening night, breaking the all-time attendance mark for an art opening in Soviet history. Max’s most recent exhibition—at the Nassau County Museum of Fine Art, in Huntington, N.Y.— shattered yet another attendance record.
Peter Max is one of the rare artists who have had uncommon success in both fine art as well as art for pop culture. His creative vision has extended beyond museum and gallery walls to enrich the fuselage of a Continental Airlines’ super jet, the 600-foot stage at the original Woodstock festival and, recently, the entire hull of the Norwegian Lines’ Breakaway Cruise Ship.
He has been designated as official artist for major music events (including the Grammy Awards and Woodstock ’99) and major league sports events (such as the Super Bowl, World Series, World Cup, Olympics and Indy 500).
This year, Peter for the second time created the official artwork for the US Open Tennis Championship. Peter Max posters and artworks have commemorated global summits for world peace, ecology, and democracy, as well as numerous charitable organizations.
At the age of 80, this artist has not slowed down his pace at all; he continues to produce a prolific body of work, he has launched several licensing ventures, and travels to visit with his fans at his gallery shows across the country.
On his milestone birthday, the artist says:
“I’m also grateful for all the amazing people whose portraits I have been privileged to paint, as well as hang out with— The Dalai Lama, Presidents Reagan and Clinton, Richard Branson, Larry King, Bob Dylan, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Derek Jeter, Taylor Swift, and so many others.
“The beauty is that the art world I am in has kept me young. Creativity keeps me young. I’m vegan and I practice yoga and I’m very proud to have brought Swami Satchidananda to New York and helped him to found the Integral Yoga Institute. It was Yoga and meditation, not psychedelics, that inspired my famous “Cosmic ‘60s” art style.”
“I appreciate the wonders of the world around us and continue to be in awe of the wonders of our infinite universe and amazed at the latest discoveries of the Hubble telescope. I have been friends with astronauts John Glenn and Buzz Aldrin, and scientists Carl Sagan, Michio Kaku, and Neil de Grasse Tyson.”
“I’m grateful for a wonderful life- a wonderful family, parents, teachers, gurus, friends, and fans. I love hanging out with friends and meeting new friends and patrons at my gallery shows.”
“And I am especially grateful for our wonderful country, America. It’s the greatest country on earth. I’m grateful for all of the amazing American gifts to the world– it’s creativity, amazing people, its freedoms… all that makes America great.”
Earlier this week C. Parker Gallery in Greenwich launched a PETER MAX RETROSPECTIVE – THE COLLECTED WORKS 1960-2017, a newly-curated and highly-anticipated collection said to be the most important collection of his works ever assembled. It spans decades of iconic and celebrity portraiture and pop influence and is being exhibited from October 13 through October 22.