In 1953, at the age of 16, Max arrived in New York and studied under Frank Reilly, a noted realist and pre-eminent teacher at the Arts Students League in Manhattan. From there he moved to the League for the School of Visual Arts where he absorbed the avant-garde disciplines of abstract expressionism and color-field painting. Although Max resisted total abstraction, the “unrestrained experimentation of color and gesture” had a “marvelous” effect on his work, and in 1961, the young artist was ready to “make it” in New York.
Realizing that new currents in graphic arts could carry him, Max opened his studio and began to take on commissions. Almost overnight he became a star of the New York City art scene and was sought after for his new, innovative look. Max’s work could be seen on posters, magazine covers and in campaigns for the most prestigious ad agencies. This “cosmic period,” Max describes as “…a visual translation of the euphoria and expansion I experienced during those times. It seemed that art was no longer something I did, but something that happened to me.”
Max understood that art reproductions were rising to the status of original artwork, and he began to pioneer print techniques that resulted in the production of an unprecedented range and intensity of color, utilizing state-of-the-art commercial presses.
In the ensuing years, Max influenced the face of graphic design with his unique imagery and technique. Experimenting with kaleidoscopic composition, typography, collage, Surrealism and innovative painterly techniques Max’s rapid experimentation infused a bold new look into commercial art; a look that influenced not only artists, but also the media-consuming public. And Max’s foray into licensing his art changed the face of consumer products forever, as his images began to adorn watches, clocks, scarves, calendar neckties and T-shirts.
In the late 60’s through the 70’s, America’s first “super-star artist” was featured in Life magazine, Time, Business Week and appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show and The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.