Mary Max, 52, The second wife of artist Peter Max of 1960s and ’70s art scene fame, who is now 81, has taken her own life, NYPD reported on Monday. In 2015, she and Max’s son from his first marriage were in court, both accusing each other of mistreating the artist, who had developed advanced dementia, the result of Alzheimer’s disease.
According to police, Mary Max was found dead Sunday night in the couple’s Riverside Drive apartment on the Upper West side.
Peter Max is the son of German Jews who fled Berlin to Shanghai, China, in 1938. In 1948, the family moved to Haifa, Israel, where they lived for several years. From Israel, the family moved to Paris, and then to Bensonhurst, Brooklyn.
In 1962, Peter Max established The Daly & Max Studio in Manhattan, with his friend Tom Daly, later adding his friend and mentor Don Rubbo. Their work incorporated antique photographic images as elements of collage.
Peter Max was interest in astronomy, which led the way to his “Cosmic ’60s” period, featuring psychedelic, counter culture images. His work was used in TV commercials like his 1968 “un cola” ad for 7-Up, which in turn popularized his art posters. Max appeared on The Tonight Show on August 15, 1968, and was featured on the cover of Life magazine’s September 5, 1969, issue, with the heading “Peter Max: Portrait of the artist as a very rich man.”
Peter Max’s art was initially identified with the counter culture and psychedelic movements in graphic design of the late 1960s and early 1970s. He used bursts of wide-spectrum color, in multiple media including painting, drawing, etchings, collage, printing, sculpture, video and digital imagery. Max often used American icons and symbols in his artwork.
In November 1997, Peter Max pleaded guilty in Manhattan federal district court to charges of concealing more than $1.1 million in income from the Internal Revenue Service in connection with sales of his works between 1988 and 1991.