Honoring The Artist: Peter Max

Some things never change, we are happy to say, and this week’s July 4 cover is no exception: Peter Max is again, after several years, still the artist; the images still feature his iconic Statue of Liberty, fireworks and human figures. The psychedelic style is a standout: abstract decoration; bright colors; a Pop Art flavor.

Psychedelia is an aspect that hasn’t changed all that much since the 1960s either. Consider that psychedelic festivals still flourish all over the world, evoking peace, love, unity and respect. And the term “psychedelic state” is one that is still relevant to many drug-free “trances” that artists, especially, experience when they are doing creative work. (This is not to suggest, however, that they also have hallucinations.)

While Max is an important carrier of the torch which perpetuates psychedelia, he has his own way of bringing its spirit and sensibility into both his art and life, namely his belief in the wondrous universe.


Q: Your love of astrology and an immense appreciation of the universe started when?

A: When I was 10, I was enrolled in an astrology class. I was the only kid in the class.


Q: That experience has stayed with you. Also the fact that you grew up in China. You looked at the world in a different way.

A: I met a swami there who had a great influence on me. He came to America where I opened up 32 yoga studios. With yoga, you bond with your inner self, finding peace.


Q: How does living in China and your finding peace through yoga influence your life and art?

A: Everyday, something influences me, not just my experiences in China. As for art, when I draw, that inner peace comes out in the piece, in the color.


Q: Things are so unpredictable in the world today. What will happen with the economy, with chaotic events in countries around the world? Does this inner peace help you cope with all of this? Or the awesome universe?

A: Our problems don’t bother me. They are nothing compared to the predictability of the universe. The universe is beyond belief. There’s an overall magic that billions of people will go to sleep and wake up the next day. The winter comes and goes. The world is perfect.


Q: You seem really content.

A: I am glad, happy all the time. On my way to work and one block away and even as I walk up seven floors to my studio. I am happy in my painting studio and when my D.J. comes in to play music.


Q: How about if you have problems associated with your work? Are you still content then?

A: If I can’t solve the problems, I let someone else solve them.


Q: What are some of your recent projects?

A: I did some paintings of Jackson Pollock in celebration of his 100th birthday. One will be sold at ArtHamptons. I have also completed paintings on the front of one of the biggest cruise ships in the world; it’s 17 stories. It’s for The Norwegian Cruise Lines. I am also really looking forward to going to China; I haven’t been back in 50 years. Three museums will be showing my work. I want to go back to my old neighborhood where I grew up. Maybe I will meet some people that I played hide and seek with. I am going to look for my nanny, too.


Q: Would she still be alive?

A: Oh, yes. I was three, and she was six at the time.


A portrait of Jackson Pollock by Peter Max will be on sale at ArtHamptons July 12-15. Proceeds will be donated  to the Pollock Krasner House. (631-324-4929)

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