Pop Artist Peter Max Turns 80. And He’s Still Creating.

peter max turns 80

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

artist peter max

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).

Peter Max on the cover of LIFE magazine, 1969
Peter Max on the cover of LIFE magazine, 1969
Peter Max, Love, 1969
One of Peter’s best known images, Love, 1969, Lithograph, 36 x 24 in. (91.4 x 61 cm.).

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).

Peter Max poster for the US Open, 2017
Peter Max poster for the US Open, 2017
peter max aarp cover
2017 Aug/Sep AARP Cover by Peter Max

“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

history of peter max

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.

Original poster for the 1970 Peter Max exhibit
Original poster for the 1970 Peter Max exhibit, his first solo show, at the S.F. DeYoung Museum, courtesy Cooper Hewitt collection
Poster, Peace Corps, 1970;  Peter Max
Poster, Peace Corps, 1970;  Peter Max; USA; lithograph on wove paper; Overall: 55.9 x 38 cm

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.

peter max dove and prince charles
left: Peter Max, Dove, 198; right: Peter Max TIME cover of Prince Charles, 1969

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 peace 1970
Peace, 1970, One of Peter Max’s great icon images, 24 X 36 inches

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.

Peter Max's Hull of the Breakaway Cruise Ship
Peter Max’s Hull of the 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.

Peter Max posters for earth day
Peter Max posters for earth day. Available for purchase here.

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.

Peter Max at 80
Peter Max at 80

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.”

Audio DNA, Peter Max, Collage composed of then “new “rock stars, including Bob Dylan, the Beatles, Frank Zappa, Donovan, the Mamas and the Pappas, the Grateful Dead, and Simon & Garfunkel. This collectible poster is the artist’s first major work of his famed “Cosmic ‘60s” period.

“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.”

Peter Max, 2013, official poster for Outside Lands
Peter Max, 2013, official poster for Outside Lands

“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.”

© Peter Max 2017

Earlier this week C. Parker Gallery in Greenwich launched a PETER MAX RETROSPECTIVE – THE COLLECTED WORKS 1960-2017a 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.

Find Peter Max art for sale, both vintage and contemporary at the following links:
Peter Max official site
Peter Max Art Dealers 

Books on Peter Max