Saint Louis University

Radiant Harmonies

Max R. Scharf was born in 1933 in St. Louis. Through a career that spanned five decades, he became known for his radiant color harmonies. His art was a celebration of the world around him which he expressed through striking color combinations. Scharf created visual poetry of aggressive force with an unequivocal strength and certainty. His pictorial world is one of tumultuous emotions with a vocabulary of complex structure.

Scharf's response to nature was expressed in bold brushstrokes. His concern with formal aspects of pictorial organization are reflected in tightly controlled compositions. A vision of order and structure helped him to achieve a sophisticated balance between his emotions and the world he represented. The high-keyed color represents his subjective vision and state of mind because it was not used to convey likeness, but rather sensation.

Instead of trying to reproduce exactly what he had before his eyes, he used color more arbitrarily so as to express himself more forcefully. Scharf synthesized several different styles to create works charged with emotional energy. His painting is indebted to late nineteenth-century sources, especially Van Gogh. He borrowed a lightness from the Impressionists, a bold palette from the Post-Impressionists and Fauves, and added an intensity of his own.