Weber (1881-1961) is one of America’s most important twentieth century
artists. The first American cubist, Weber translated the modern
European aesthetic into a truly American style that evolved during the
roughly sixty years of his career. He developed a personal
expressionism in his mature phase that was influential for the
development of Abstract Expressionism.
Weber, at age forty-nine, was the first American artist to be given a
retrospective at the newly opened Museum of Modern Art in 1930. This
major recognition was followed by solo shows at the Whitney Museum of
American Art and the Jewish Museum in Manhattan, acknowledgment that
Weber was one of America’s most significant modernists. His works are
included in most of the major American museums and in other museums
throughout the world including the Vatican collections in Rome and the
Tel Aviv Museum of Art in Israel. Although Weber is best known for his
innovative modernism, he is also acknowledged as one of the leading
American artists of Judaic themes.
Weber’s early work included landscapes, still life, and figure
painting that remained the staples of his repertoire. Trained at the
Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, Weber was most influenced by his years in
Paris (1905-1909) where he encountered the most modern tendencies in
art. He was inspired by the work of Paul Cezanne, which he saw at the
great Cezanne retrospective in Paris in 1907. Weber also incorporated
elements of the brilliant colorism that he saw in the work of Henri
Matisse, who was briefly his teacher in 1908, and the formal structure
of the new cubism that he saw in the studio of Pablo Picasso.
Weber explored modern techniques during the second decade of the
twentieth century. At this time he exhibited frequently. He was
accorded the honor of being the first modern artist to have a solo
exhibition in a major American museum when he was given his first
retrospective show at the Newark Museum in 1913. After the death of
his parents in 1918 at the end of World War I, Weber briefly turned
away from modern art as so many artists were doing. During the
twenties he returned to more familiar imagery and began his
exploration of Judaic themes. During the thirties Weber’s political
views compelled him to address more socially conscious themes. At the
end of his career, he returned to the abstraction that had dominated
his initial mature work.
This exhibition, Max Weber: Reflections of
Jewish Memory in Modern American Art, was made possible by the
cooperation of Max Weber's daughter Joy, his biographer Percy North,
and Solna K. Wasser.
provides a look into the mind of this modern American artist, what and
who some of his influences were, and what might have motivated him to
create many works relating to Jewish culture and religion.