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October 19: The Psychedelic Artist

October 19, 2013
peter_max_1970_3Peter Max (Finkelstein), whose psychedelic art helped define the aesthetic of the 1960s (and was licensed by more than 70 corporations), was born in Germany on this date in 1938 (some say 1937; he himself doesn’t say). Max was raised in Shanghai after his parents escaped the Nazis, and in Israel between the ages of 10 and 15. Coming to the U.S. in 1953, he developed an art style in the late 1960s and early 1970s that reflected the psychedelic drug culture, with intense bursts of color, complicated, interconnected forms, and optimistic, accessible themes. While viewed as “countercultural,” Max was a pioneer of licensing art, and his work was widely embraced from the start by the commercial and advertising world; his images adorned General Electric clocks, Mead notebook covers, airplanes, postage stamps, and paraphernalia for six American presidents. Max is an environmentalist and animal rights activist and lives in New York. “It was really great. . . historic. . . sensational. . . such a rush from every direction toward who I was and what I did. It was hard for me to even believe it. I just somehow captured the mood the way the Beatles captured the music mood of the late sixties and early seventies, I captured the visual.”—Peter Max