One of the most famous of all living artist's, Peter Max is also a pop culture icon. His bold colors, uplifting images and an uncommon artistic diversity have touched almost every phase of American culture and has inspired many generations. 

Peter Max has painted for six U.S. Presidents and his art is on display in Presidential Libraries and in U.S. Embassies.

Max has painted our Lady Liberty annually since America's Bicentennial and in 2000 a collage of his Liberties adorned over 145 million Verizon phone books. Max has been named an official artist of the 2006 U.S. Olympic Team at the Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy. He has also been Official Artist of 5 Super Bowls, World Cup USA, The World Series, The U.S. Open, The Indy 500, The NYC Marathon and The Kentucky Derby. In 2002 Abrams Books publishes what would become one of the best-selling art books ever!

His art has flown the skies on a Continental Airlines Boeing 777 Jet. His art installations include an amazing 600-ft stage for the Woodstock Music Festival, a giant mural for the Winter Olympics and 10-ft guitars for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

The childhood of Peter Max is the material from which a sweeping James Michener novel or a Steven Spielberg movie is made: exotic locations, a cast of fascinating international characters, and the creative freedom to experiment and discover oneself.

His life’s adventure began in Germany, then from the age of one, can be mapped across China, Tibet, Israel and France, before he reached his ultimate destination, America. With a pan-cultural background such as this for a budding artist, it was inevitable that his work would become so rich and minifold. Max’s rise to prominence as an American icon actually began in his childhood home in Shanghai— a pagoda house, where on one side there was a Buddhist monastery, and on the other, a Sikh temple. In the morning he would watch the Buddhist monks painting Chinese characters on vast sheets of rice paper with large bamboo brushes and at night, he would listen to the beautifully sung prayers of the Sikhs. Shanghai was a colorful, magical place; there were always parades going by with dragons floating in the sky, chimes ringing and gongs echoing.

The splendor of the Orient, however, could not compete with a street vendor’s offering— American comic books. Young Peter’s imagination raced as he was carried away to fantasies of other worlds and into the future. Peter also listened to American jazz on Shanghai radio and watched first run Hollywood movies over and over again at his friend’s father’s movie theater. There, in the ancient land of China, Peter Max became more immersed in contemporary American iconography than most children living in the U.S.A. at the time.

Peter’s mother, Salla, was a fashion designer in Berlin before the family moved to Shanghai. She cultivated her son’s innate talent by leaving various art supplies on all four balconies of their pagoda house— water colors, ink, brushes, pencils, crayons, colored papers, scissors, etc. She told him, “Choose any balcony and medium, make a big mess and we’ll clean up after you.”

Peter’s artistic encouragement continued when the family traveled to Haifa, Israel. There, he studied with Austrian expressionist, Professor Honik, who introduced his student to the colorful world of Fauvism and the paintings and drawings of Henri Matisse, Maurice Vlaminck, Max Beckmann and Alexi Jawlensky. While Peter studied painting, his creativity became stimulated by another source.

One day, he visited the Mt. Carmel Observatory and his earlier childhood fascination with astronomy got reawakened. He was so eager to learn about space that his parents enrolled him, at once, in an evening astronomy class at the Technion Institute. Learning about the vastness and wonders of the universe was a revelation to Peter. He became so absorbed by the subject, that he began to study art and astronomy simultaneously. His immense passion for space continues to this day, and celestial elements often appear in his works, especially his art of the late 1960s— a period appropriately coined, “The Cosmic ‘60s.”


Peter Max Biography: