On exhibit: Peter Max's world
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The exhibit, which is one of the museum’s most popular (as one would expect), covers the breadth and depth of Max’s entire career and shows the relationship between his drawings and paintings.
“It’s fascinating to see the different styles he has explored over the course of his career,” Dr. Willers says. “It is amazing to see this side of his work. It seems that he is incapable of making a bad drawing. I am thrilled with them all and Peter has been extremely generous in sharing these drawings with the museum.”
The drawings, done in pen and ink, date from the ‘60s to the present, and cover the well-known themes seen in Max’s paintings — undulating landscapes, angels, cosmic imagery, celestial bodies in space, and spiritual leaders, among others. These 120 drawings are shown alongside 60 of his paintings, many of which are familiar from their popularity as posters. Dr. Willers and Max’s curator Ada Lau selected the works to be shown, with input from the artist.
Max, 76, continues to draw at a prolific pace — every day he says. “I am very fortunate and have had an unbelievable life,” he says. “I’ve always had this love for art and never thought when I was young that this would be something that I would do professionally when I grew up.”
Max has been drawing since he was three when his family lived in Shanghai. His magical, fantastic works have their roots in his childhood spent in the family’s pagoda house. He lived in that house, which faced a Buddhist monastery and a Sikh temple, for 10 years. 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. From there, the family relocated to Haifa, Israel, visited Paris, and finally arrived in the U.S. when Max was 16. He continued to draw all that time, studying art at the Art Students League after graduation from high school.