When he was just a year old, Peter Max and his family moved from Nazi Germany to Shanghai, China, where he learned to appreciate a world full of color.
"You can imagine what that was like for me," he said. "Color, color everywhere."
That's where the world-renowned artist began painting. He and his family moved from Shanghai to Tibet and back to Shanghai, then to Africa, Israel, Paris and eventually Brooklyn. His experiences in each of those places had an impact on his life and his artwork.
"My life is bright," he said. "I'm really very, very grateful because I had two very, very creative parents."
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Max became popular in the 1960s for his psychedelic posters documenting the counter-culture of the era. Since then, he has painted portraits of several U.S. presidents and celebrities. He has been the official artist of five NFL Super Bowls, the 2006 Olympics, the World Cup USA, the World Series, the U.S. Open, The Indy 500, the ING New York City Marathon and the Kentucky Derby, according to a press release. He is known for his paintings of the statue of liberty, "Umbrella Man" and "Cosmic Runner." His vibrant work is exhibited in hundreds of museums and galleries worldwide, and can even be seen on a Continental Airlines Boeing 777 jet.
Max's fans will get a chance to meet him Sept. 20-21, when he will return to Hilton Head Island for an appearance at his exhibit, "Peter Max: A Retrospective." The exhibit will run Sept. 14-21 at Karis Art & Design Gallery.
The exhibit will include works from 1960 through the present, including Max's design for the cruise ship Breakaway.
Max is currently working on seven animated films. He said the animations will include the music of his friends Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and Jon Bon Jovi.
When asked what his favorite piece is, Max responded that it is always the one he is working on.
Max's influences include Vincent Van Gogh and Pablo Picasso. He said someone gave him some of their prints long ago, and he was inspired by the colors and shapes. Although he meets fans and hears that people are inspired by him all the time, Max said he has not seen anyone try to duplicate his technique.
"My own style seems to still be my own style," he said. "I don't see anybody doing anything like it. In a way, it's good."
Follow Amy Coyne Bredeson at twitter.com/IPBG_Amy.