Pop art luminary Peter Max wants to clear the cosmic dust surrounding “Yellow Submarine,” the animated Beatles classic returning to theaters for a 50th anniversary showing in July.
Although Max, 80, was a friend of The Beatles, he says, “The art for 'Yellow Submarine' was created by German artist Heinz Edelmann. It was similar in some ways to my ’60s art but even more similar to Pushpin Studios artists Milton Glaser, Seymour Chwast and John Alcorn.”
Max added, “My work in the ’60s was more related to the cosmos — stars, galaxies, planets, Cosmic Jumpers and flyers in swirling spacescapes. Their subjects were more flowers and rainbows.”
Long Islanders can see 120 of his works, including a collection of New York City landmarks, such as his vibrant "Statue of Liberty," in the exhibit "Peter Max: The Retrospective 1960-2018" at LaMantia Fine Art Gallery in Northport through Sunday. Max, who will make a rare Long Island appearance at the gallery on Saturday and Sunday, recently answered questions about his career.
What excited you about the prospect of having an exhibition on Long Island?
Long Island has always been a special place to me, especially at this time of year as I’ve had summer houses on Fire Island and the Hamptons. I have so many friends and fans on Long Island. I had a wonderful one-man exhibition at the Nassau County Museum of Art. There were lines of people wrapped around the building waiting to get in.
What was it like getting to know The Beatles?
I was mainly friends with John Lennon and George Harrison. I often met John and Yoko at the Souen macrobiotic restaurant on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. George and I had a lot in common with yoga and meditation. I introduced Swami Satchidananda to America and George hosted Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, founder of TM [transcendental meditation]. I also got to spend time with Ringo Starr; he visited my studio and I painted a piano for one of his charities.
Why did you paint portraits of Taylor Swift?
Taylor Swift is such a unique and incredibly talented singer-songwriter. She told me that she was a lifetime fan of my work, and as a young girl she would stop in her tracks when she saw my art in gallery windows at the beach while on vacation with her family. That was just amazing to hear.
Why has your artwork remained popular and relevant decades after the ’60s?
Mainly, I think, because of my colors and vibrancy and my unique expressionist style. Although my art has evolved over the years, from my cosmic ’60s works to my bold Expressionism, it still appeals for those reasons and it makes people feel good.
Is there anything or anyone new you’d like to paint?
I’m always busy creating new paintings and graphic editions, and when something new and exciting presents itself, I’m open and ready for it. As long as I can hold a brush, I always will be.
'Peter Max: The Retrospective 1960-2018'
WHEN | WHERE 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday and 12-4 p.m. Sunday; reception with Max 6 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, LaMantia Gallery, 127 Main St., Northport
INFO Free, reservations required for reception; 631-754-8414, lamantiagallery.com