Max and Bettmann’s Portable Panopticon

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In 1962, German-born Peter Max started the “Daly & Max Studio” with friend Tom Daly in Manhattan. Daly and Max designed and illustrated for book publishers and advertising agencies. Their work incorporated antique photographic and graphic images for signature collages. Max’s interest in astronomy contributed to his self-described “Cosmic ’60s” period, which featured what became misconstrued as psychedelic, counterculture imagery. Max referred to this work as a panopticon, constructing his images from photographs, magazine illustrations, old engravings and decorative papers, pasting together a segment of composition and then mechanically reproduced, mirror fashion numerous times in circular form.

In 1963 he joined forces with German-born Otto Bettmann, who founded the legendary Bettmann Archive, the most extensive clip art and vintage print and photo agency of its time. Bettmann provided the design and illustration community with many of the artifacts that were used to counter-balance the simplified purity of the Mid-Century Modern school of design.

The exhibition that Daly and Max organized, Panopticon, was an invitational to artist and designers to use Bettmann materials in their work. Below is a sampling of the outcome by some designers you may know, and others you probably will not.



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About Steven Heller

Steven Heller is the co-chair of the SVA MFA Designer /Designer as Author + Entrepreneur program, writes frequently for Wired and Design Observer. He is also the author of over 170 books on design and visual culture. He received the 1999 AIGA Medal and is the 2011 recipient of the Smithsonian National Design Award.View all posts by Steven Heller →