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Weber, Max

WEBER, MAX

WEBER, MAX (1881–1961), U.S. painter. Weber was born in Bialystok, Poland, and taken to New York at the age of ten. From 1905 to 1909 he worked and exhibited in Paris. He was a pupil of Henri Matisse and a close friend of Henri Rousseau. Back in New York, he arranged the first American Rousseau exhibition. Weber's work, highly controversial and often attacked by critics, was shown at avant-garde galleries but was unappreciated for many years. The artist had to support himself and his family by teaching, mainly at the Art Students League. His breakthrough finally came in 1948 with a comprehensive retrospective exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. In the years to follow, he received many prizes and awards and in 1955 was elected member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters.

His compositions grew bolder, more abstract, but without severing completely the link to nature. In sensuous, rich colors, geometrical patterns, they seemed to catch the dynamism of the metropolis. His subject matter included somber and melancholy landscapes with trees; well-arranged still lifes; plump and unseductive, yet disturbing, nudes; musicians; sweating workmen; and Orthodox Jews. Weber frequently stressed the dynamism of Jewish groups in action, using their eloquent hands to underline an argument, or dancing ecstatically in the shul. He was also a distinguished sculptor, whose three-dimensional work veers toward the abstract. He published Cubist Poems (1914), and Essays on Art (1916).

bibliography:

H. Cahill, Max Weber (1930); L. Goodrich, Max Weber (1949); New York Museum of Modern Art, Max Weber Retrospective Exhibition (1930); Max Weber (1945), introd. by the artist.

[Alfred Werner]

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