Shertz demonstrated an unusual artistic talent at an early age. At 17 Shertz joined the Marines. After returning from Korea, he studied at the New York Art Students League, where he apprenticed under, and was influenced by, Hans Hofmann and Raphael Soyer, who would later become his close friend. Shertz then moved to Hollywood, where he lived with his uncle, neurosurgeon Daniel Weller, and Weller's wife, columnist writer Helen and sister of Herman Hoover, owner of Ciro's, the famous night club of the 1940s and 1950s. While in Hollywood Shertz worked as an agent and television actor. In 1956 Shertz met his first wife, Edith Tunik (Edi), and they had four children: Marla, Dana, Joshua and Nilda. Disillusioned with show business and drawn to his first love, art, Shertz left Hollywood to devote himself to painting. During that time he apprenticed with the artist Boris Deutsch.
Shertz's explorations with his art reached new dimensions in the 1990s with his "Art of the Unconscious". Henry Hopkins, the 1990s director of the Los Angeles Hammer Museum, stated, "Max Shertz with his Art of the Unconscious takes automatism and abstract expressionism to a new dimension making a breakthrough in 20th century art."
Shertz remarked of his own work:
There is great evidence from the past that art is prologue and that fine art is always a movement outward from within and catches even the flickering light and exposes the slightest glimmer in a vast gulf of darkness. For half a century, I have created while searching and exploring my inner creator. Within those fifty years, I have been surrounded by those reasoned conscious so-called works of art done from the outside in, art done for economic purpose, art that is conceptual and art that is sentimental and sanctimonious.Wikipedia