Wednesday, May 23, 2012 , Updated 10:00 a.m., June 1, 2012
Pop icon Peter Max exhibits paintings at the Crescent Hotel this summer
In his time, he has become synonymous with contemporaries such as Andy Warhol or Yoko Ono.
DALLAS In late May and early June, America’s painter laureate Peter Max will present an exhibition of his works at the luxurious Crescent Hotel in the Wisby-Smith gallery in Uptown Dallas. It will be a wonderful chance to view a collection of works by one of the most prolific American artists of our time.
Max is known as one of the most influential artists of 20th century, and that influence is equally pervasive in the art world of the 21st century. Known for his vivid use of subject and color, his work in graphic and pop art has been celebrated around the world. Max has painted for six U.S. presidents, with art on display in presidential libraries and U.S. embassies. He has painted the Statue of Liberty annually since America's Bicentennial, and his works were instrumental in funding the restoration the Statue of Liberty itself.
Max has had an unrivaled impact on conventional and graphic arts. In his time, he has become synonymous with contemporaries such as Andy Warhol or Yoko Ono. Given his congenial nature, many of these artists were close friends. When Ono met John Lennon, Max was one of her first phone calls.
“She rang me up, ‘Hi Peter, did you hear?’ and I said ‘The whole world heard, congratulations,’" he recalled. "Then we met at Central Park that afternoon, the three of us. [John] was full of limericks and rhyme, he was a very jolly kind of guy.”
He’s never too humble to speak on his accomplishments, but humility bears no purchase when successes are as numerous and significant as his. His exhibition at the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia attracted a record-breaking 420,000 visitors in its two-day run. A similar record was broken at the de Young museum in San Francisco with the largest show in their history, capping out at just over 290,000. Ever the warm and approachable conversationalist, Max speaks like a close friend. Regardless of the scope and frequency of his exhibitions, Peter’s true desire seems to be to meet attendees and make friends with artists and art lovers alike.
With a career that has spanned the great media explosion of the late 20th century, Max has a uniquely pragmatic view of the growth of art. “Every few decades, new things happen. When artists like Picasso painted with paint brushes and colored pencils, charcoal pencils on paper, years later there’s acryllic paint in jars, which has the same flavor and texture as oil paint, but is easier to paint with and you can close it up and just get a different jar.” Innovation comes naturally to Max, in his case in an endearing way: “One of my guys set up a pallet with 70 colors, 70 jars with one big heavy metal top with a rubber base. So every day when I come into the studio, I lift up the cover and reveal 68 to 70 colors. I don’t have to open 68 jars, because if you try to open 68 jars there will always be two or three you can’t open,” he said.
As techniques developed, Max was quick to embrace them, “Photography became very big, so art now became art with color collages of photographs. Then came the digital media, everything we could do before, plus all the new stuff available on the computer, and then you could print it out, and then, if you want, you could put some brush strokes on it,” he said.
He also spoke about the rise of artists on the Internet. Artists whose paintings might never have left their basement studios are free to display their works online in personal portfolios or community sites such as DeviantArt.com. “Thirty, 40 years ago, you hung out in your own neighborhood, then later on, everyone got a car and you went to Manhattan," he said. "It was a big deal to fly places. Professionally I was lucky enough to be in hundreds of cities over the years, get people’s phone numbers, and now speak to them on the Internet from all over the world. It's amazing.”
Max’s exhibition will run from May 25 through June 3 at the Rosewood Crescent Hotel in Uptown Dallas. If you go, the best time would be June 2 and 3, when he'll visit the gallery. Ever the connector, Max says he's got some phone calls to make when he arrives to the Big D.
“Dallas is a beautiful area," he said. "In what little time I have, I will be looking to see how many friends I have there and call them up, get a bite to eat, invite them to the show. It's an amazing place, Dallas. I love it.”
Pegasus News Content partner - The Assignment Desk, DFW
- Video: Dirk honored in NBA Finals commercial
- Dogged pursuit of fun leads pet owners to Deep Ellum's Bark Park
- Theater review: DSM's glittering production of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert never "drags"
- Four Corners Brewery hosts Texas barbecue royalty on May 25
- Did you know Mary Suhm was a high school beauty queen in Beaumont? 10 things about her: