Iconic Art

Iconic Art

Peter Max shares his brightly colored works.

While the world has moved on since the 1960s, Peter Max is still painting brightly colored canvases. Still, though much of the ’60s is considered passé, the demand for Peter Max’s is as strong as ever.

“Peter Max is probably the most well-known living American artist,” said Christian O’Mahony, chief financial officer for Wentworth Galleries.

Max and more than 100 of his works will be at the Tysons Galleria Wentworth Gallery from 6 to 9 p.m., May 19 to May 20.

Max gained his fame for his “Cosmic ’60s” art style in the 1960s. Recently, the artist said there are 150 billion stars in our galaxy and that there are 350 billion galaxies in the universe. “I live in awe of that piece of information,” Max said. “There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think of that.”

Over the years Max has created covers for Life magazine, a design for a U.S. Postal Service 10 cent stamp, official posters for the Summit of the Americas, the Grammy’s, the United States Tennis Open, and others.

In advance of the Tysons Corner show, Max spoke about what has evolved and what has remained stable in his art and his connection with his audience.

As one is painting, one just happens to do something different and then one does it a few more times, Max said. People will look at the art and say they like it and, in this way, one will start a new artistic style, Max said.

Since the 1960s Max said he has had eight to 10 styles.

In recent years, Max’s brightly colored art has moved toward more abstract compositions. About his art he said, “It’s always been going in this direction, but its been going more and more.”

“I express myself not so much in subject matter ... but in this shape versus this shape,” Max said.

WHILE MAX OCCASIONALLY will get a request for a particular art piece, he paints most of his work as his own whims dictate, he said.

“I very, very seldom think of the market. I paint for me ... If I painted for the market, I think my art would come out weird,” Max said.

At a Peter Max art opening, one often finds both hippies and major chief executive officers, O’Mahony said. Max’s “happy” art attracts all sorts of people from all generations, he continued.

Though diverse people attend a Max show, when Max attends his shows he says one thing commonly happens. Many of those in attendance will approach him and thank him for his commitment to the environment and sustainable growth, he said.

At the Wentworth Gallery show there are paintings, lithographs, serigraphs, and mixed media from Max’s entire career. Prices range from roughly $2,000 up to nearly $100,000.

Max’s work sells well at the Wentworth Gallery, O’Mahony said. “There’s something to be said for longevity,” O’Mahony said. “To compare him to an actor, he’s like a Jack Nicholson or a Sean Connery.”

The exhibit is open to visitors until the end of May. The gallery is in Tysons Galleria, 1731M International Drive, McLean.