To the Max

Join the much ballyhooed debate about the decline of Peter Max’s artwork from genius psychedelic illustrator of the 60’s to high art flab of his current oeuvre. The making of “pretty pictures” and resting on laurels. But whatever the general assessment, you must go check it out for yourself at the Russell Collection Fine Art – Peter Max: In Living Color  which opened in Austin, TX this past week.

Many people place Max in the camp of illustrators turned pop art icons like Warhol and Neiman whose work suffered later in life due to crushing fame and ego’s extremity.

The plight of a wildly successful pop artist is intriguing, who by definition taps the spirit of the age as his/her guiding light. Their genius is in capturing this zeitgeist lightning in a bottle for us all to see and reflect. However when that artist himself though stardom, fame and fortune becomes pop art, his work as translator/reflector is lost. It’s the ancient story of  Pygmalion in reverse. Becoming pop art calcifies you into the referred object, and who then can break free an ossified hand to redraw the voice of the next generation?

I think most of us can safely mark this off our list of possible life hazards we’ll have to contend with. And a benefit of relative obscurity.

One Comment on “To the Max”

  1. Brent says:

    I admittedly forget that Max did such painterly things. But I also owe much of my inspiration/profession to pop artists like he and Warhol, so I’m always ready to champion Pop Art as a true art form! 🙂

    By the way, we’re in the midst of the Cherry Blossom Festival here in DC. This year celebrates the 100th anniversary of Japan’s gift of the trees to the US, so Peter Max was commissioned to do a commemorative poster. It’s not as “arty” as the example you’ve shown, but it’s pink and has lots of flowers! Check it out here:

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