Peter Max Exhibit to Open 10/25 at Nassau County Museum of Art
Nassau County Museum of Art presents PETER MAX, a solo exhibition of works by one of the most beloved of contemporary artists, called "one of the most widely recognized artists of our time" by art historian Charles A. Riley II, Ph.D. This exhibition, the lauded Pop artist's first museum exhibition in New York, juxtaposes portfolios of his mostly black-and-white drawings on paper against many of his larger and more color-saturated works in a variety of media. The showing at Nassau County Museum of Art is the first in-depth look at this well-known artist's original drawings, which cover a wide range of subjects; sunsets over oceans and undulating landscapes, angels and other winged apparitions, boats sailing through idyllic harbors, cosmic imagery of planets and celestial bodies in space, portraits in profile and figures drawn from life, spiritual teachers such as swamis or gurus or sages, as well as flowers and other exotic plant life, to name only a few. These never-before-seen drawings, add to one of the most recognizable and commercially successful artistic practices of our times.
Peter Max's magical, fantastical works have their roots in his childhood. Born in Berlin, he was taken to Shanghai as an infant. There he lived for ten years in a pagoda house, facing a Buddhist monastery and a Sikh temple. Buddhist monks painting enormous Chinese characters on vast sheets of rice paper, dramatic parades featuring floating dragons, and the vibrant colorations and sights of Shanghai became his daily landscape. But little grabbed his imagination as much as the discovery of American comic books. Max fell in love with the characters-Buck Rogers, Captain Marvel, Wonder Woman and Plastic Man-who carried him away to fantasies of other worlds. His growing artistic interests and talents were nurtured by his mother, a fashion designer in Berlin before the family's move to China. Her encouragement continued when the family relocated to Haifa, Israel, visited Paris for six months and finally, when Max was 16, arrived at its ultimate destination: the United States. Enthralled by the billboards, fashions, music, automobiles, movie theaters and towering skyscrapers, it was America that truly captured Peter Max's imagination.
In New York, Max trained at the Art Students League, Pratt Institute, and the School of Visual Arts. His art, influenced by the field of commercial illustration and characterized by intense burst of color, became emblematic of the counter culture and psychedelic movements in graphic design during the late 1960s and early 1970s. In an earlier essay, Dr. Riley places Peter Max's paintings "...within a continuum of Modernists such as Van Gogh and Gauguin, Matisse and the Fauves, Kandinsky ad Expressionism, Josef Albers and Frank Stella."
Peter Max revolutionized art of the 60s just as the Beatles transformed the music of that decade. From visionary pop artist, to master of dynamic neo Expressionism, Peter Max is an inextricable part of the fabric of contemporary American culture.
PETER MAX opens at Nassau County Museum of Art on Saturday, October 25, 2013 and remains on view through February 23, 2014.
Nassau County Museum of Art is located at 1 Museum Drive in Roslyn Harbor, just off Northern Boulevard, Route 25A, two traffic lights west of Glen Cove Road. The museum is open Tuesday-Sunday, 11 a.m.-4:45 p.m.