While planning this feature and our upcoming collaboration, I’ve read many other articles on Maximilian Wiedemann and his work and in my opinion, none have managed to capture and convey the soul of Max or what he is trying to show with his artwork. Like many artists, the more journalists that attempt to write and add outside narratives to his creations, the less people are listening to Max’s true voice which lives within his artwork. As Max gears up to launch his new range of t-shirt designs in collaboration with Collier Bristow, we wanted to learn more about Max and his views on the art world and beyond.
Rather than further muddy the waters and assign another box to place Maximillian’s artistry inside, I asked him to describe it in his own words for us.
Max: I’m a graffiti based artist. I come from the good old days inspired by modern art and subway artistry. I started painting on walls which were uninteresting to the public and it started to get me jobs and I was able to continue. If I had to describe my style, I’d say it’s where Haute meets street art.
Oozing with iconography and vibrant palettes, the rawness of his early work still appear in his contemporary pieces. In many ways, Max fills the space in the modern art world which Andy Warhol left behind. Despite his love of Haute, fashion, and the refined, Max stays true to his roots of street art and his original inspirations for creating. Observing his surroundings and finding art in the discord, Max’s work often plays on modern perception, themes, and self-reflection.
With the latest generation, I’m very aware that 15 minutes of fame is hugely sought after and admired but as an artist my job is to bring self-reflection to a relevant zeitgeist and plant new seeds for healthier ideas and ways of thinking.
My new t-shirt designs mirror the vanity and the foolishness of those in our society who believe that money rules everything. “The better you look the more you see”, “The only pain Is champagne”, I’m turning the mirror on those people and reflecting their current mindset upon them in the harsh light of day.
The more I look at society the more I’m seeing how materialistic it is becoming and how much less we’re looking at the true values of humanity the way those who came before us did. I want a return to a broader way of thinking and to show that while money talks, it has nothing to say.
It’s clear that Maximillian cares and his frustrations are sincere and from a genuine place. For a clearer understanding, it’s best to observe Max’s own entrance into the art world. Finding his talent for street art and graffiti (or vandalism to some) and having never studied a formal art course, Max has never strayed from his grass roots mentality. Despite being commissioned by some of the biggest names and working with many social elites, there is a disdain in his voice when he discusses the “rich art school kids” anyone (including myself) would have met at university. Max is an artist who has excelled through the grit of his talent and has had nothing handed to him – while not fully innocent of splurging nor claiming to never have indulged during his success, he refuses to be a person of excess and refuses to create artwork just for a paycheque.
The rich are getting richer the poorer are struggling more. I’ve self-indulged at times, but I’m not going to do art without being in the position of messaging. My statements in this collection are directed at materialistic people who’ll do anything for a pay day. I’m asking them directly, “what is your integrity worth?”. These are basic questions but I see more and more people chasing money instead of humanity or anything else without a financial gain.
The message is clear in his tone and his words that his latest body of work is born from his own frustrations with modern society and what he perceives to be the chasing of skewed ideals. While he touches on the point about his own times of self-indulgence, I also know that Max worked within the advertising industry for over ten years. I quizzed:
FAULT: You’ve said in the past that the advertising industry strengthened your understanding on the power of art, but as an artist, how could you not feel stifled or insincere working for such large and sometimes soulless corporations?
In advertising, we played the game of seducing people but with my art, I’m playing with the art of seduction which is a totally different thing. Living in the world of advertising I’d often tell myself, “this isn’t a real world, it’s faulty and manipulative.”
Advertising is the art of seduction but my seduction is my art.
I’m just putting a mirror up and showing you who you are and letting you truly perceive yourself and your values. People go and buy Rolexes in hopes that others will see it and say “wow, look at him and his money” but I want them to truly see themselves how I do. I have a design which takes their “Rolex” and I change it to “relax” as if to say “well done you own a Rolex what next? What does it truly mean? Nothing. Just relax.”
You should be cool for what’s inside, if you can’t sit on a street curb and share interesting ideas and insights and only have a shiny watch and large bank account to offer, then you really have nothing.
I’m not against the establishment, I’m against soulless people who use daddy’s money as a ticket to notoriety to then become popular figures and idols. I’m a self-made man and I thought a long time about if I could do this art thing. But I’m putting my life on the line for this project because I have a message which I need to get out.
People are chasing money to pay for a soulless lifestyle which forces them to keep chasing money for even more soullessness, it’s a vicious cycle.
As an artist, I’m here to communicate. My art is communication.
Throughout our discussion, I’m wanting more and more to quiz Max on his chosen medium for this project. Why t-shirts and why fashion at all? By its very nature, fashion is materialistic and I recalling Oscar Wilde’s essay from 1885’s New York Tribune ( also published again in ‘The Philosophy Of Dress’) “Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.”
FAULT: Fashion is and has been known to be a revolving door of ideas, trends and physical materials, so why choose such a throw away medium for such a long lasting message?
A canvas appears in someone’s home or gallery and is tucked away to be seen only those who are interested but I’m thrusting my message at you on a street level. I know it’s hypercritical to put it on a t-shirt but I feed off of the irony for this project. All my statements derive from irony, “La Vie En Pose”, “Detox to retox”, “The only pain is champagne” I’m in the business of the ironic and that’s the hidden or not-so-hidden layer to what I’m working on now.
On the same level, the collection is called Raw and Ready and you wear them direct from the hanger without receiving any social merit based on the name on the label alone. You can walk around with an outfit made by huge high fashion designers and receive a social standing based on that but with my collection, you have vibrant messaging without the social labeling. Once again I return to my saying “money talks but has nothing to say”, but my collection has much to say and much to question.
One take away from our discussion is the clarity of Max’s resolve to insight change of some degree to modern society. While conscious about adding another long and drawn out personal analysis of Max and further muddy the waters as mentioned in the article’s intro – it is important for me that Max’s message does not come across as false to our readers. There is a reason this interview is so challenging and far from the “What are you promoting? Why? What is your FAULT?” format some might expect. Launching a for-profit business in hopes of revealing the greed of modern society, sounds confusing on paper but through challenging discussion, we can hear his true motivations. A graffiti artist finds their canvas in the environment most needing of a message, and an artist finds a medium most suitable for their ideas – it’s no surprise then that Max has chosen fashion for his latest art piece.
As Max is passionate about having his name tied to this collection as am I with FAULT’s as we gear up to present the launch at Lights Of Soho this month. Grilling? Perhaps; but from this interview Max’s message is as clear as day and really fills us with excitement for his new collection. Time will only tell if the change Max is calling for will be acted on or if the statements he is making will be heard, but one thing is for certain, Max will keep creating and keep questioning as all great artists do.
Money may talk, but Max has far more too much to say before he listens to it.
Words: Miles Holder
Maximilian Wiedemann & Collier Bristow will launch their collaboration at Lights Of Soho on November 9th. For more information head over to lightsofsoho.com