Multi-dimensional art expressionist Peter Max blessed Jacksonville with his presence by showcasing his newest collection of paintings at the R. Roberts Gallery in Avondale.
Spectators and art enthusiasts assembled in a single file line wrapped around the R. Roberts gallery on a cold and rainy January night to view Peter Max’s cosmic art and to perhaps catch a glance of Peter Max himself. Being a man of little words, Max was scarcely present at the exhibition except in intervals where he stood behind a small roped off section of the cramped gallery and quietly autographed paintings and memorabilia. One would think a man who paints with such loud colors would in a sense have a bold personality himself; not Peter. He saves his entire valor for his paintings.
Visionary pop artist of the 60’s and 70’s to neo expressionist master, Peter Max and his vibrant colors have become part of the fabric of contemporary American culture.
With “cosmic art” containing bold lines and bright blended colors Peter Max exploded into the American pop scene in the 1960’s & became a household name.
Through the 80’s & 90’s Max’s art evolved into a new expressionistic style featuring bold, multi-colored brush strokes. Being part of the psychedelic movement, Max has effectively stretched his creative talents to the Nth degree. He has worked with oils, acrylics, water colors, finger paints, dyes, pastels, charcoal, pen, multi-colored pencils, etchings, engravings, animation cells, lithographs, serigraphs, silk screens, ceramics, sculpture, collage, video and computer graphics. He loves all media, including mass media as a "canvas" for his creative expression. As in his prolific creative output, Max is as passionate in his creative input. He loves to hear amazing facts about the universe and is as fascinated with numbers and mathematics as he is with visual phenomena.
“If I didn't choose art, I would have become an astronomer," states Max, who became fascinated with astronomy while living in Israel , following a ten-year upbringing in Shanghai , China . "I became fascinated with the vast distances in space as well as the vast world within the atom," says Max. Peter's early childhood impressions had a profound influence on his psyche, weaving the fabric that was to become the tapestry of his full creative expression.
His childhood was filled with magic and adventure, something in which adults seemed to forget about as they grow up. However, Peter found a way to hold onto that imagination and channel his childhood energy through his art. In a sense, by capturing the creative energy of his youthful aspirations, Peter Max is able to relive his childhood fantasylands by incorporating them into each piece of art. Somewhere along the line, amidst in his childhood wonder, Peter Max began to make a name for himself by daring to do something most artists in his generation rarely did; that was to paint simply and boldly. Peter Max had something to say to America and he spoke loudly through his paintings.
Although born in Europe and raised in China , Peter Max was quite committed to the United States . A true patriot, Peter Max has used his paintings to celebrate American icons and symbols. He has painted the last five presidents; Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush and Clinton (Max has created his 100 Clintons, a multiple portrait installation whose images were used through the four days of the Presidential Inauguration.) and has enjoyed a 25 year love affair with Lady Liberty. After 911 Peter Max did many variations in the Lady Liberty series such as “Peace on Earth”,” Liberty and Justice for All” etc; but what is most impressive is the story behind his famous painting “Flag With Heart”.
One night Ronald Reagan came to Peter Max in a dream. He woke up but he couldn’t find a canvas to paint on so he painted the notorious “Flag with Heart” (now priced at $15, 650) on the back of an already painted canvas. To this day, “Flag with Heart” is always painted on the back of a canvas, unless painted on paper.
Max’s latest “Canvas” moved from the gallery to the skies with his painting on Continental 777 jumbo jet. This $160 million dollar canvas will fly throughout the world for the next two years. Peter has also been the official artist for five Grammy’s & created a 500 foot by 80 foot backdrop for Woodstock 99.
This year’s display of art from Peter Max shows a unique vision deriving mostly of hearts, angels, flowers, and sunsets with a gorgeous assortment of vibrant color. The show also consisted of painted baseball bats, NFL football helmets and a newspaper posting of Dale Ernheart’s #3 Millennium car getting revived with “Peter Max colors”. Peter Max even showcased priceless commission work; a hand embellished personal photograph of a clients wedding photo. Every painting in the show is unique; there are no pictures, no brochures, no images of Max’s art on the web whatsoever which increases the value of his work. Max’s artwork in the show ranged from $2,950 (mixed media on paper) to $75,000 (acrylic on canvas). Max’s past work, however, wasn’t as pricey or even as unique according to one former customer Charlotte Folsom. In asking what precious Peter Max remnant she had possessed, Charlotte replied, “I used to own a pair of hip hugger Peter Max bell bottoms in the 60’s. The front panel of the right leg was bright yellow, the left panel was bright green, and then there was a patch pocket on top of the bright yellow panel in bright green and a bright yellow patch pocket on top of the green panel. The waist band was bright orange and the belt loops were orange and yellow and green. They weren’t expensive at all; in fact they were the regular price of jeans. Back in the 60’s it was just art for the common person in the Sergeant Pepper era.”
From the looks of the response in the R. Roberts Gallery, I’d say Peter Max is still inspiring those from the “hippie generation”. Although they are now middle aged dressed in Armani & furs and clutching Coach Bags while sipping on Merlot; these pioneers can remember the flower child deep inside who used to clutch hippie beads, burn bras and pop Quaaludes like Tic Tacs.
And secretly Peter Max knows he has done his job for the night.