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Learning to appreciate Peter Max

Topics/tags: Miscellaneous, short

While on a cruise at the start of the summer, I spent some time attending auctions. At first, it was because my brother-in-law wanted to go. But I always appreciate the opportunity to look at art. And I enjoyed discovering pieces by Yaacov Agam, even though they were out of my price range.

The auctioneers were really pushing works by Peter Max [1]. I wasn’t feeling very excited. The pieces were okay, but they didn’t move me. I liked the Peter Max pop art of the 1960’s, but not enough to want it in my house. He’s changed his style. It’s more painterly, but the images did not particularly move me. And, well, it seems that he’s painting the same thing again and again and again. Does this Umbrella Man really differ that much from that Umbrella Man [2]? What’s the point of having choosing between about six different models of painting and nothing more?

Then I realized what he was really doing. Oh, he’s pushing the Warhol art as commerce model in another direction. That, I appreciate. The concept, rather than the art itself, is what’s at play. Does that mean that I want to buy something by Peter Max? No, not really. But if I did, I’m not sure I’d be inclined to buy a painting or a sculpture. Rather, I think I’d buy one of those pieces that I’d describe as I took a print, added three swatches of paint, and tripled the price pieces; they best represent what I appreciate about his work.

[1] At least they had a variety of kinds of works by Max. They were also pushing work by Thomas Kinkade, the legendary Painter of Light. Since Kinkade is dead, the only things they had were overpriced prints.

[2] Yes, they differ. While the overall structure of each Umbrella Man is the same, there are different colors and he makes other subtle changes.

Version 1.0 of 2018-07-30.