Max lived reclusively and surrounded by nature. He examined the world around him and gave even the smallest elements presence enough to completely command the viewer’s attention, while fitting, like an enormous puzzle, into a greater integrated whole.
Water and Growth
The water in Max’s paintings is not only a wellspring of life but a place where a host of creatures come into being and continually intensify and change. Whether the water is a torrent or just a droplet, it is a vital catalyst in many of his works.
Evolution and Time
Standley’s world is inhabited equally by the living and the spirits of the dead, while the fossils are as alive as the plants and animals. The spiral is one of his favorite symbols for the slow constant change of evolution.
The natural world had always been a safe haven for Max, a place where he can feel unified with all the forces at work around him and find his place within them. Sometimes it is in the forest as a whole, and other times he finds sanctuary in a sheltered corner or even a space under a log
Many of Max’s paintings play on the underlying structures of both world’s we live in, the tangible, and the intangible, which he brings equally to our attention. He delves into theoretical issues such as quantum mechanics and fractals as well as the zodiac, but he also glories in physical structures, such as the delicate veins of a single leaf.
Max has stated: “Art can lead us to a more spiritual reality.” Many of his works illustrate a parallel existence where our conventional ideas drop away and the viewer can clearly see the forces and denizens that dwell within.
Environmentalism and History
Standley’s work bears witness to the degradation of the environment through pollution and carelessness. The same goes for his historical perspective. His Trail of Tears series portrays America’s injustice towards its native people.