Did Peter Max Influence Yellow Submarine?

Yellow Submarine Peter Max Style?

Yellow Submarine Peter Max Style?

In answer to whether he was influenced by the “Peter Max Look”, the Yellow Submarine’s Art Director, Heinz Edelmann, said “By 1964, I had seen a few examples of Peter Max’s work in “Graphis Annual” or a similar publication. At the time, Peter Max was in partnership with somebody named Tom Daly, if memory serves, whose non-cosmic, cartoony style seemed much more in evidence. Anyway, this was noted in passing and did not deeply impress me. I thought the work was verging on the vulgar. His psychedelics only hit Europe well after Yellow Submarine had been released, and did not cause a public sensation. On the continent, they were seen as more or less standard flower-power wallpaper.

However, Peter Max says he was solicited by Yellow Submarine producer Al Brodax to work on the film. Although Brodax denies this, Max claims to have a contract, which he cannot locate, to back up his statements.

Peter Max says, “I never claimed any ownership to the Yellow Submarine, except I kind of probably styled the direction in which it went. As you remember, Al Brodax used to do the Jerry Lewis and the Dean Martin cartoons before he did The Beatles cartoon on TV. It was considered a late 50s, early 60s art look-oblique’. He did The Beatles like that on TV and John Lennon hated that. He didn’t like that look. And through John Lennon’s wishes (he was a big Peter Max fan) Al Brodax called me, and Brodax wanted me to design and art-direct the whole film. At the time, he offered me, God knows what, I think two and a quarter million dollars to do the film.”

“He did everything in his power to persuade me, like a guy trying to pick up a lady. He gave me the whole routine. I was in his office on some floor upstairs. He first came to see me, and we’re schmoozing. And me, with my enthusiasm, I then gave him maybe 40 posters of my work that were pasted all over the walls at the original onset, the beginning of the Brodax production. When you walked in, there was a Peter Max – walls and walls and walls of posters. That was the look. I gave him that present.”

“Now when he called me up a few months later, he gave me a contract and wanted me to do all this, but when he actually gave me the contract, it wasn’t for two and a quarter million. It was for maybe a couple hundred thousand dollars. This was still before my cover of Life, but I was already, probably at that time, into 30, 40 licensing deals. I had (by 1969) 12 licensing deals, a billion dollars at retail. But at the time I was maybe one quarter or one third into that gigantic enterprise and I couldn’t go to England. and I couldn’t do it for 200,000 (dollars). I already had a staff that I had to support of about 30, 40 people which later on was almost 60 to 70 people.

“So I gave him the directions. But it was really my gift to The Beatles. I knew The Beatles before Brodax ever even heard of them. It’s like sometimes in the history of music, some black group gave Elvis Presley a sound, and that’s where it took off. But people always think it’s my style, because that was the prevalent style in the United States-the Peter Max style. And he came to me. And to show you that it was me, I’m trying to find this contract that I had between me and Brodax.”

Peter Max Yellow Submarine Style?

Peter Max Yellow 1967 - Yellow Submarine Style?

Al Brodax responds: “Peter Max had nothing to do with it … Tell him to send the contract…. The guy has no inkling of the truth. I’ve had trouble with him over the years … I don’t even want to get involved with him because as soon as I even talk to him, he goes on talk shows and says we’re good friends and he did the Yellow Submarine… Over the years, he nodded and said every time a host of a talk show would say, “and you did the Yellow Submarine,” and he’d nod and they would go on. He then made a statement, maybe a year ago to The New York Times, that he did do the Yellow Submarine, and I called the Times and they retracted the statement. They apologized and pulled it back.

I didn’t know Heinz, but I didn’t want Peter because I didn’t really think he was that great. The guy I really wanted was Milton Glaser, but he was too busy. He’s at least as good as Heinz-maybe better in his own way. Their styles are similar. Milton was just a great artist, and so is Heinz. Peter, he’s silly, you know.

What do you think?

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Beatle Bob

I think they were influenced by Peter Max’s style. Or, maybe there were several artists doing the same thing at the time?

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Ezekiel

The truth is, Peter Max was probably influenced by a trendy new art style in the early and mid art styles in the 1960s.
If Heinz copied Peter, then Peter has copied styles from Wes Wilson (1966), Lichtenstein (1966), Milton Glaser (1965), Kelly Mouse (1966), and many more with similar art style as the “Peter Max” style before Peter has developed his iconic “Peter Max” art style around 1968.
The thing is, if Heinz used Peter Max style, he clearly made it his own between color, typography, manipulation, and composition. No matter what Peter Max says, artwork made by an artist describes a lot more than a written story.
Heinz Edelmann accomplished a huge feat being an art director for the movie and took part in a movie that affected the psychedelic art movement which takes a lot more skill to accomplish a success. Trust me, SO MANY BELIEVED that the Yellow Submarine movie was going to flop, but Edelmann succeeded. Non the less, looking at Peter Max work, I can’t imagine him accomplishing tasks as creating interesting and mind blowing characters or ideas as Heinz did.
I respect Peter Max as an artist, but I can’t see him succeeding in the Yellow Submarine movie compared to Heinz Edelmann. Heinz Edelmann is the true hero in this because he actually took on the immense task and accomplished it.

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Anonymous

Did Heinze

do it for the 200k. ?

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Julie

Sounds like Peter Max has some sour grapes. He probably feels they ripped him off, so he’s making up a story about being offered the job so he doesn’t look like a chump.

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Bill H.

I agree.

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alan gross

Very informative! Didn’t know about the politics behind the scenes. When I was a kid I thought Peter Max created The Yellow Sub for it’s so close to his style…

Hard to tell who’s making up a story and who’s being truthful. I tend to believe that Peter Max was never approached for his price tag was most likely too high being the hot item that he was

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Doramin

“Artists do not steal, artists are ‘influenced’.”

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Penjaga

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Roni

Max certainly influenced the artists of that time…

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Lisa Marie Henness

Here are some time line facts: yes Max had an art studio in 1962 with friend Tom Daly (The Daly & Max Studio)… And he appeared on the Tonight Show in 1968 and on the cover of LIFE magazine on 9-5-1969 for his poster style art. Max’s 1968 LOVE poster was emblematic of late 60s pop-culture iconography. Yellow Submarine movie was released in 17 July 1968.

However one must keep in mind that Max had several posters that fit the style of his famous Love poster and the type of artistry found in Yellow Submarine that where completed prior to 1968, such as his Kaleidescopic Lips and Toulouse Lautrec posters in 1967.

So since we know making a cartoon movie doesn’t happen over nights and can take over a year to make one could believe that Max was either: actually there during the making of the film as stated and in return this influence his work or he wasn’t there at all and his work provided influence to the artists of the film. (Yes, I know I am just restating the original argument, but just bare with me)

But Seriously …….Does it truly matter who influenced who … facts are Max is a great artist, and Yellow Submarine is a great movie, and both have coincided with each other for decades and can continue to do so. We can appreciate the beauty in both types of work without taking away any appreciation or value from one another.

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dan

I have been trying to get some answers,info concerning 8 pieces or original color pencil line drawings (1 dated 1968) that are signed MAX.Beatles,Blue Meanie,etc.they cam from an Estate connected with Raydell Publishing.NO ONE will have a look,much less make a determination as to the authenticity of the Art. I should mention that i also have original LeRoy Neiman Mock up art book,verified as “real” by his then personal assistant who showed Mr. Neiman the piece.All came from the same estate.Any ides as to whom to contact that might actually talk to me without being dismissive….? Thanks in advance.

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Jack Mendelsohn

Having written an early version of the Yellow Sub screenplay, I can tell you that Peter Max has made a fortune coasting on his false claims of being responsible for the artistic style of the film. He seems a big blowhard.
On the other hand, Al Brodax has also made a fortune from the film, and he’s also a big blowhard. Coincidence?….

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Tony Foster

This is a silly controversy apparently created by Peter Max as his account of the commissioning process varies with each interview. (Compare the statement in Westchester Magazine 2012 with the Al Brodax story above). Heinz Edelmann is a wonderful cartoonist/graphic artist whose work regularly appeared in TWEN magazine between 1961 and 1969. The evolution of his work can be seen through those pages. He did not need Peter Max to show him anything. Part of Edelmann’s genius is his phantasy world with eccentric characters, elephants with trumpet noses, strange flowers and silly monsters. All quite original and quite unlike anything in the Peter Max oeuvre.

Non-artists can be forgiven for recognising a superficial similarity through common stylistic elements of flat colour and freeform shapes and pattern, but anyone with eyes can see the Edelmann characters are all his own and his graphic work is quite original and unique. Peter Max works with a more decorative imagery, not characterisation. I also see a consistency of taste on the part of the Beetles in commissioning Alan Aldridge to illustrate their songbooks and Heinz Edelmann to illustrate the Yellow Submarine. Both artists are brilliant in their original concepts of characterisation. Both are superb at touching our sub-conscious with their imagery. Just as the lyrics in some of the Beatles ballads.

I comment as I hate to see original creativity debased by arguments of who influenced whom.

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Jim

Just enjoy who cares where it came from . You are missing the point..

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Christian Moeckel

No mention of Richard Lindner? He is even immortalized on the cover of the Sgt. Pepper album.

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