A Double Dose of Peter Max

These oversized paintings by Peter Max (1937-) came in with the same ailments, which are quite severe, and the result of poor and prolonged storage practices. As you can see from the photographs, for each painting excessive water damage occured along one edge, the edge that would have been at the bottom while in storage. The damage continued and spread mold and fungal invasions, dirt particulates across the canvas, and cracking and bulging of the paint film.

The first step is to tent the paintings with an agent to kill the mold. Following that, careful cleaning will prep the front and reverse, and then new archival linen will be adhered to the reverse. Where the canvas suffered heavy material loss along the edges, these areas will be reconstituted with in-fill and then in-painted to conceal that there was ever damage. Along these edges is also where the signature was, some of it remains, and the rest will be re-established. Heavy consolidation will return the paint film to plane, and in-painting where necessary will conceal these areas. Conservation varnish to finish. Stay tuned for more…

Born in Berlin in 1937, Peter Max and his family quickly moved to Shanghai, China where he spent the first 10 years of his life.  Young Max formed lasting impressions of Flash Gordon, Capitan Marvel, jazz, creativity, and freedom from American comic books, radio broadcasts, and movies.  Max and his parents traveled through the Tibetan mountains, India, Africa and Israel where Max first studied with a Viennese fauve painter. It was in Israel that Max developed a keen interest in astronomy, a subject that would later impact his artwork.

In 1953, Max and his family moved to the United States, settling in New York City.  After completing high school, Max studied painting at the Art Students League.  He was fascinated with commercial illustration and the graphic arts, and won awards for his album covers and book jackets in his unique style.

During the 1960s, Max worked in his psychedelic photo collage period, which later gave way to his “cosmic” 60s style with its distinctive line work and bold color combinations.  Inspired by his meditative, spiritual teachings, Max’s cosmic art captured the imagination of a generation and launched Max into fame and fortune.

During the 1970s, Max dropped his commercial work and pursued canvas painting in earnest. For the 1976 Bicentennial, Max created the art book Peter Max Paints America, and began his annual tradition of painting the Statue of Liberty.  A lover of music, Max has been designated the Official Artist for the Grammy’s, the New Orleans Jazz Festival and the Woodstock Music Festival.

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