NYC Yellow Pages Cover

Peter Max’s magazine covers were found everywhere. So, what makes this one any different than the many created by Max? In 1970, Max’s art was on the cover of Manhattan Yellow Pages meaning millions of people saw it. His work was placed on their cover another two times, in 1973 and in 2001. These telephone books were distributed all around in the New York metropolitan area. Max had become a true public figure upon appearing on tv but having his artwork on something so ubiquitous had people everywhere on the streets calling for him. They would say something along the lines of, “Hey Max, I got your yellow pages.” Max soon after moved out of the public eye and took a creative retreat. In doing so, it allowed him to explore new directions in painting, ones with heavier brush strokes.

However, this piece on the cover undoubtedly demonstrates the use of pop art as well as some psychedelic art. There are very vibrant, solid colors and one can see that Max touched on the psychedelic art by the figures and the surrounding elements of plants and the sun’s rays. Not to mention, he created this after meeting Swami Satchidananda, a yoga master. Max’s experience with Satchidananda enabled a newfound connection within himself and his art. The stylistic approach Max had on this cover was very similar to what he did with other magazine covers. They all held the same characteristics, so it was easy to tell and recognize the artist behind the brush.


Discussion — One Response

  • Edward Levens 04/21/2020 on 1:12 PM

    Thank you for this post Cristina. I was born in the mid 1970s and grew up using telephone books. They were a very important part of society and used frequently. In the Mid-1990s I still used telephone books as a prospecting tool for new business at my first job.

    I grew up about an hour outside New York City in a small town called Hackettstown. Getting an opportunity to do the cover for a New York City phone directory would have been an unbelievable opportunity for an artist. I’m not sure there is a similar medium today? Would it be the postage stamp? Peter Max did a stamp for the U.S. Postal Service commemorating the 1974 World’s Fair.

    I think the cover Max created is brilliant. Its use of bold colors is outstanding. In your piece you mentioned that Max’s magazine covers had a similar look and were comparable to Max’s telephone book covers. The stamp I mentioned above aligns with his other work as well.

    In doing some research for this post I found Peter Max’s early childhood to be very interesting. He was born in Germany to Jewish parents. His family escaped Nazi Germany when he was one. How scary must that time of been for the Max family.

    Great post. It brought me back to my childhood and introduced me to an artist that I did not know.

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