“Be All You Can Be. Read”: Peter Max’s 1969 Psychedelic Poster for National Library Week

04 - Nat Lib Week 1969

In 1969, Peter Max was cre­at­ing psy­che­del­ic illus­tra­tions that cap­tured the coun­ter­cul­tur­al spir­it of the 1960s. Bright, trip­py, and thought-pro­vok­ing, Max’s art­work fused togeth­er “east­ern yogi phi­los­o­phy, astron­o­my, com­ic books, stud­ies in col­or, and music.” And it cer­tain­ly found an audi­ence. By the late 60s, col­lege dorm rooms across the U.S. were plas­tered with Max’s posters. 72 cor­po­ra­tions — from Gen­er­al Elec­tric to Burling­ton Mills, a man­u­fac­tur­er of socks — licensed his art for com­mer­cial use. Mean­while, in ’69, Max appeared on The Tonight Show, The Ed Sul­li­van Show, and the cov­er of LIFE mag­a­zine (with main arti­cle titled “Peter Max: Por­trait of the artist as a very rich man”).

Even while the cor­po­rate gigs were rolling in, the Ger­man-born illus­tra­tor took on less com­mer­cial projects, like cre­at­ing this poster for Nation­al Library Week, an annu­al event orga­nized by the Amer­i­can Library Asso­ci­a­tion. Mea­sur­ing 36 x 24 inch­es, the 1969 poster, aes­thet­i­cal­ly speak­ing, is vin­tage Max. And it car­ries a mes­sage that sounds as good today as it did then: “Be All You Can Be. Read.” Now dare I steer you toward of our col­lec­tion of 500 Free eBooks? An easy way to make you, a bet­ter you.

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  • Isabella Twilight says:

    I own this poster. I fell in love with it the moment I saw it over (10) years ago. It belonged to a pri­vate par­ty & was not for sale. Years lat­er I saw it was to be dis­posed of & asked the own­er for it & they gave it to me! It is beau­ti­ful­ly & pro­fes­sion­al­ly framed in black with yel­low & orange bor­ders. It hangs in my din­ing room where I can see it every day. I do not know its worth. I have seen many price ranges for it, but I would nev­er sell. I have always been a Peter Max fan. I love psy­che­delia & this is one of his best.

  • Jimmy Nichols says:

    I have what i believe tobe a orig­i­nal (be all you can be)buy, its signed by Debi Bouchard. Con­fused

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