May 28, 2019

"Several household employees also made allegations of neglect, including that Ms. [Peter] Max withheld food from her husband and sometimes put 'large Brazil nuts' in his smoothies, on which he might choke."

"Not everyone agreed with the portrayal of an abusive marriage. One court-appointed lawyer testified that Mr. Max 'stated several times, without prompting, how much he loved his wife' and that removing him from their home could be 'highly detrimental' to Mr. Max’s mental well-being... Mr. Max continued to travel to the studio... and sign works of art, even as his condition steadily worsened....  The artist’s dementia, [a gallery employee said], made Mr. Max even more creative and prolific... Luke Nikas, a top art lawyer in New York... did not dispute that Mr. Max suffered from dementia, and noted that the 20th-century Dutch-American artist Willem de Kooning also had the ailment and remained productive. He compared Mr. Max to Warhol and conceptual artists like Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst, who exert creative control but typically rely on others to paint or construct the art. 'Not a single work goes out the door without being hand signed by Peter Max,' Mr. Nikas said... One Wednesday evening in April, I showed up at Peter Max’s apartment.... I told Mr. Max that I was a Times reporter... He just shrugged, asked me several times what year it was and then told me that he had spent his childhood in Shanghai.... I wanted to ask him directly about his career and the drama of recent years, but now that I saw his confusion for myself, I didn’t attempt an interview. So I thanked him and turned to leave...."

From "Dementia Stopped a Major Artist From Painting. For Some, That Spelled a Lucrative Opportunity/Now Peter Max’s associates are trading lurid allegations of kidnapping, hired goons, attempted murder by Brazil nut and art fraud on the high seas" by Amy Chozick (NYT).

Did you know that paintings with the Peter Max signature are sold on all of the major cruise lines, including Royal Caribbean, Carnival and Norwegian, and Norwegian has a Peter Max-themed ship?

Didn't you love Peter Max 50 years ago? If you were around back then. If so, now you are old, and maybe you go on cruises and it would feel nice to go on a cruise on ship painted with Peter-Max-style art and to buy a painting that was signed "Max," and you'd hate to learn that not only was the painting done by someone else but that the signature was accomplished because the demented Mr. Max was "instructed to hold out his hand, and for hours, he would sign the art as if it were his own, grasping a brush and scrawling Max."

Oh, the happy cheerful bright colors! Peter Max was the picture of our youth. His art epitomized youthful optimism and energy. There's no going back, and now it seems he's the epitome of age. How old we all are! His decline reminds us. What year is it? We spent our childhood in Maxland.

ADDED: Here's CBS touting Max 4 years ago....



You do see him painting and hear him talking there. Do you detect dementia? There's something horribly phony about the "CBS This Morning" presentation. The pinchedly smiling face of Michelle Miller made me queasy.

43 comments:

David Begley said...

A total scam.

Would the Althouse blog be the same if someone else did the writing and Ann exerted creative control? Tom Clancy’s Estate runs that scam.

Temujin said...

I wondered why Brazil nuts have been appearing in everything from mashed potatoes to yogurt around my house.

Kevin said...

Once you find a golden goose, you’ll do anything to keep the eggs coming.

Bay Area Guy said...

"Didn't you love Peter Max 50 years ago?"

Truthfully, I really did. All those beautiful colors of his books got etched in my little brain. I was only a tot, but it felt like a psychedelic version of Dr. Seuss books.

The good news is that I only cared about the art, not the artist. And once I grew up and away from the art, and into the next venture (probably Marvel comix), I didn't really think too much about Peter Max or his art.

A fond, but distant memory.

Paco Wové said...

Boomeriffic!

"Do you detect dimension?"

I assume that's supposed to be "dementia". Or maybe it is dementia.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

A Portrait of the Artist as an Old Man...

tim maguire said...

I'd never heard of Peter Max before today. I thought I'd at least heard of all the major artists.

'Not a single work goes out the door without being hand signed by Peter Max,'

In other contexts, people go to jail for that.

traditionalguy said...

Norwegian had a long gallery of Art hung in the passage way from aft to bow on level 6, that looked like his. My thought was that it was amateur and strange stuff, but they hawked it as if it was valuable and in the last days held auctions with free champagne.

The Art World depends on nouveau riche folks with money to burn being drawn in by the idea that Art is an investment that grows in value as a new Artist becomes famous. And you can brag about collecting it in the meantime a la Thorsten Veblen's Conspicuous consumption theory. It's 99% a scam.

Phil 314 said...

“ Do you detect dimension? “

Only two in Mr. Max’s drawings.

Robert Cook said...

I did love Max's psychedelically colored cartoon graphics. Few know that he was well-trained in the fundamentals of drawing and painting and his earliest illustration work was more realistic.

I noted he made a point of referring to the "completed paintings" that he was "now going to sign." Hmmm...why not sign them when you finish painting them? I suspect those were pieces off his studio assembly line.

Several of the classically revered painters ran studios as commercial enterprises and had apprentices doing some of the non-essential work on paintings, with "the master" coming in to finish the crucial parts of the piece, (such as the head in a portrait painting).

Phil 314 said...

In my lifetime Max was:

- Yellow Subarine (“Blue Meanies!!!”)
- and some ad campaign for _____. (I’ll have to google it.)

Robert Cook said...

"Only two (dimensions) in Mr. Max’s drawings."

That's all there is in any painting or drawing.

Phil 314 said...

7-up.

Ann Althouse said...

If he shaved that mustache down to pencil-thinness, he'd look just like John Waters.

Big Mike said...

Didn't you love Peter Max 50 years ago?

Yes

If you were around back then.

I was

If so, now you are old,

On a lovely morning like today 70 doesn’t feel all that old!

and maybe you go on cruises

I have one planned this fall, but it’ll be the first I’ve been on, and the only

and it would feel nice to go on a cruise on ship painted with Peter-Max-style art

Actually, no

and to buy a painting that was signed "Max,"

And Hell no

Ann Althouse said...

From the comments at the NYT: "I knew him in the 90's. Lots of parties in his place, lots of famous and interesting people. I think Artists are like Angels...and there were always "friends and business consultants" constantly taking advantage of their spirit in one way or another. I witnessed this with the incredible Robert Rauschenberg and the graphic artist, Romero Britto as well..."

gspencer said...

During the 1980s and 1990s Ted Williams' son John Henry (who himself died less than 2 years after his famous father) would have his father sit at the kitchen table signing, gloves, baseballs, and bats which John Henry would then sell. Almost like printing money. If true, that would be indicia that old Ted was enfeebled, or getting so. The Ted I remember was a forceful personality.

Phil 314 said...

Cookie,
don’t be so literal.

Annie C. said...

All my school notebooks and book covers were Peter Max for years and years. I loved his colors and lines and he made my life brighter. Before long, all the cool kids moved over to brown paper bag book covers (bonus for the grocery name on the outside) and plain color covered spiral notebooks. I stuck with Max for a long time after that and could always find m stuff in a pile.

You don't have to like the same art as anyone else. Some people like that Thomas Kincade stuff, and I find it soothing. My Aunt was a nut for those big eyed porcelain kids.

But to expect, in the modern era, that all artists are starving in a garrett and painting over their canvases because they can't afford any more yet they still MUST paint is kind of silly.

Phil 314 said...

It’s not the art I like but the signature on the bottom.

JAORE said...

"The artist’s dementia, [a gallery employee said], made Mr. Max even more creative and prolific..."

Modern art in a nut shell.

robother said...

Too bad Max wasn't on the cruise. Cruise line docks in Mexico, you buy a Christ on Velvet, and he signs it: voila, a rare Max, working in a completely different genre.

buwaya said...

I would be interested in a cruise on a Velasquez-themed ship.
It might be rather expensive though.

A Goya-themed ship however would be a step too far. Only for eccentrics.

buwaya said...

There is a Goya-themed bullfight series however, every September in Ronda.

You might want to consider a de Kooning football game.

Huisache said...

Makes me think of Ripley Under Ground.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Oh, the happy cheerful bright colors! Peter Max was the picture of our youth. His art epitomized youthful optimism and energy. There's no going back, and now it seems he's the epitome of age. How old we all are! His decline reminds us. What year is it? We spent our childhood in Maxland.

Out on the road today I saw a Deadhead sticker on a Cadillac
A little voice inside my head said
Don't look back, you can never look back
I thought I knew what love was
What did I know?

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Ann Althouse said...If he shaved that mustache down to pencil-thinness, he'd look just like John Waters.

After the comment section discussion the other day about Waters where I said I didn't much care for Waters' films despite their renown (I think you like Pecker, everyone says Pink Flamingos is high art, etc) I realized I forgot one I do like quite a lot: Serial Mom!
That one holds up, I think, and has turned out to be far more prescient than any of his other stuff I have seen (what did we learn from, say, Cecil B Demented, anyway?).

Trailer: Serial Mom

Howard said...

Never liked Max back in the day, more of a Leroy Neiman guy. Max always personified the older boomer cool that was passe on arrival.

Yancey Ward said...

I prefer the hands-on touch you only get with hired goons.

Tomcc said...

In 7th grade I bought a binder with a Peter Max illustration on the cover. I thought it was pretty avant-garde, and certainly one step up from the cartoons I liked!
I believe it is really difficult to separate the words "art" and "fraud" anymore.

Robert Cook said...

"Never liked Max back in the day, more of a Leroy Neiman guy. Max always personified the older boomer cool that was passe on arrival."

Heh! Neiman is essentially the Peter Max for the 50s generation, subject to the same disdain from art critics.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Never liked him.

Sam L. said...

I'm with AVI on this.

rehajm said...

Cookie,
don’t be so literal.


I'm convinced he's some kind of weird AI-Turing test experiment someone forgot to turn off when the test was over.

Howard said...

Robert: The 50's was arguably the most creative art period, including ground-breaking advances in film, fiction, poetry, jazz, painting

rcocean said...

Ah, the old Brazilian nuts in the smoothie Trick. Its the 2nd time I've fallen for it, this year.

rcocean said...

So, its Ok to like Thomas Kinkade now?

Bill Peschel said...

"So, its Ok to like Thomas Kinkade now?"

My wife and I walked into a store, some craft store I think, that had a section for TK's artwork. That's where I discovered he did a lot of cityscapes that appealed to me.

Ann Althouse said...

@hoodlum

I love Serial Mom. Have written about in on the blog.

Robert Cook said...

"So, its Ok to like Thomas Kinkade now?"

Whatever you like, you like. I don't like it, but, that's me. Kinkade worked for Disney as an animator at one point. He was a trained, skilled artist who decided to cash in by turning out the artistic equivalent of giant frosted cinnamon buns for sugar addicts.

Robert Cook said...

"Robert: The 50's was arguably the most creative art period, including ground-breaking advances in film, fiction, poetry, jazz, painting."

I don't dispute that. I'm merely pointing out that Leroy Neiman was the predecessor/equivalent in the 50s to Peter Max in the 60s.

Howard said...

Kinkades early Plein Aire work is quite good. As Warhol said, making money is an art

Roger Sweeny said...

Artists are like Angels

If you believe in them and clap real hard, then they're real.