Paul E. Maxwell is a modern artist and sculptor who developed a technique for using stencils to create thickly textured and layered surfaces, as well as objects he patented as “stencil casting,” but that later became known as “Maxwell Pochoir.” He is also known for creating the “Max Wall” in the West Atrium of the Dallas Apparel Mart. Though demolished in 2006, it can be seen as a backdrop in the science-fiction movie Logan’s Run. His work is highly abstract and often consists of some kind of grid, a form that is nonhierarchical and illustrates a major theme of his work.
Paul Maxwell was born in Frost Prairie on September 17, 1925 to the farm family of Willie F. and Robert M. Maxwell. The sixth of seven children, Maxwell considered himself an artist from an early age and recalled the landscape of Frost Prairie as “pure form- wide unbroken fields of tall grass which the slightest breeze could shape into waves and ripples of golden light.” He has said that drawing in the exposed clay soil there may have been an early inspiration for the kind of textured surfaces he would later create.
When Maxwell was nine, the family moved to Bastrop, Louisiana, where he completed high school. Maxwell went on to graduate from Principia College in Elsah, Illinois in 1950 with a BA in art, followed by graduate work at Claremont College in California. While at Claremont, Maxwell had his first museum show in Stockton, California. In 1951, Maxwell exhibited his work at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in a show that included such artists as Picasso, Miro, and Matta. Also that year, he had his first commercial gallery exhibition.
From 1955 to 1958, Maxwell taught at the Houston Museum of Art and at the University of Houston. From 1959 to 1961, he lectured and exhibited his work in Europe under the sponsorship of the U.S. Information Agency while maintaining a gallery in Switzerland. During the rest of the 1960s, and into the 1970s and 1980s, Maxwell lived and worked in Texas and Oklahoma, receiving commissions for works in public spaces, such as a wall sculpture in the Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and the freestanding sculpture for the lobby of the Stark County Library in Canton, Ohio.
It was also during the 1970s that Maxwell developed and created pieces using his stencil-casting technique. In 1985, a twelve-minute documentary that dealt with Maxwell’s work was produced by Carol Shroeder and broadcast by PBS. The documentary, titled Paul Maxwell: Lines/Horizons, won the American Film Festival Red Ribbon Award for Best Short Documentary and the Mitchell Wilder Gold Medal Award given by the Texas Association of Museums, both in 1986.
First Prize, Houston Annual, 1953
Onderdonk Memorial Award, Witte Museum, San Antonio, 1954
First Prize, Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa 1955
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
The Canton Museum of Art