Max Weber, Russian/American (1881 - 1961)

Max Weber

In a long career covering more than half a century, reflecting various revolutionary art movements of those years, and containing more than its share of adversity, Max Weber produced a body of work that is passionate and articulate, triumphant in its conspicuous excellence. At various times the consensus of art criticism has favored one or another phase of it, but as the totality of his huge output becomes clearer to us, its common characteristics are more noticeable than its frequent metamorphoses. It is the product of a man who was responsive to new stimuli, but who reinterpreted them with lyrical intuitiveness and a penetrating intellect. A Weber of any period is recognizable for its rich brushwork, for the swift lines darting over the canvas, for its intensity and eloquence.

One of the most stylistically pioneering of the early modernists, Max Weber was a key figure in introducing avant-garde art to America. He worked in the mediums of oil, watercolor, printmaking and sculpture, and his subjects sometimes reflected the spiritualism of his religion. His styles included Fauvism, Cubism, Dynamism, Expresssionism, and Futurism and reflected the broad spectrum of revolutionary art activity in Paris at the turn of the 19th into the 20th centuries.

He also created some social-realist paintings during the 1930s with depictions of factory scenes. These works reflected his left-wing political leanings, which he expressed as national chairman of the American Artists Congress, "the most powerful left-wing artists' organization of the period" (Baigell). He was a writer on topics of modern aesthetics including 'The Fourth Dimension from a Plastic Point of View', published in "Camera Work" in July 1910.

He was from a strong Jewish background, having been born in Bialystok, Russia, and in 1891, he settled in Brooklyn. At the Pratt Institute, he studied with Arthur Wesley Dow from whom he learned to see forms as visual relationships rather than objects. He taught public school art in Lynchburg, Virginia from 1901 to 1903, and Duluth, Minnesota from 1903 to 1905, and then studied in Paris at the Academie Julian, Academie Colarossi, and Academie de la Grande Chaumiere. He was much influenced by Cubist artists Pablo Picasso and George Braque and then returned to New York in 1909, where he experimented with many modernist styles.

He was among the first American artists to show an interest in Indians of the American Southwest, and in 1913, his one-man exhibition at the Newark Museum was the first exhibition of an American museum for a modernist artist.


1881 Born in Byalostol, Russia.
1891 To America with parents, settling in Brooklyn.
1897 Graduated from Boys' High School, Brooklyn.
1897-1900 Studied at Pratt Institute under Wesley Dow.
1900-05 Taught drawing and painting at public schools in Virginia and Michigan.
1905 To Paris and studied at the Julian Academy under Jean Paul Laurens. Frequents the Louvre, the Trocadero, and the Guimet museum of Oriental Art.
1906 To Spain in the summer: El Greco, Velasquez, and Goya. Met Rousseau, Matisse, Marquet, Picasso, and Delaunay.
1907 To Italy: Giotto, Masaccio, and Donatello. Back to Paris to study with Matisse. Went to the great Cezanne exhibit.
1908 First noticed in America in a NY Times article.
1909 returned to New York. First on e man show at Haas gallery.
1910 Exhibited at the 291 Gallery with Marin, Maurer, Hartley and Dove.
1911 One man show At 291, "a brutal, vulgar, and unnecessary display."
1912 One man show at Murray Hill Galleries.
1913 Cubist poems published in London. Exhibited at the Alpine Club Gallery.
1914-18 Lectured on history and appreciation of art at the White School of Photography.
1915 Exhibition at Ehrich and Montross galleries.
1916 Essays on Art published.
1920-21 Taught at the art students' League.
1923 One man show at the Montross gallery.
1924-25 One man shows at JB Neumann gallery.
1926 Primitives published. Taught at the Art Students' League again.
1927-28 One man shows at JB Neumann gallery.
1929 Exhibited at MOMA. Moved to Great Neck, NY.
1930 Retrospective at the MOMA. One man show at JB Neumann gallery.
1931 Guest Teacher at University of Minnesota.
1935 One man shows at JB Neumann gallery.
1937 National chairman, American Artists' Congress. One man show at JB Neumann gallery.
1938-40 Honorary national chairman, American Artists' Congress.
1941 Awarded numerous art prizes which included the Temple Gold Medal, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and the Ada s. Garrett Prize, Art Institute of Chicago. One man show at the Associated American Artists Galleries, NY.
1942 One man show at the Baltimore Museum of Art. Several shows at Paul Rosenberg & Co., NY.
1943 One man show at the Baltimore Museum of Art. One man show at the Carnegie Institute.
1945 Awarded Second Prize, Pepsi-Cola Exhibition, NY.
1949 Large retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art.
1951 Guest teacher, Humanities Department, University of Minnesota.
1954 Taught art workshop at Bowling Green State University.
1955 Elected member of The National Institute of Arts and Letters, NY.
1956 Awarded Lippincott Prize, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.
1957 Doctor of Humane Letters, Brandeis University.
1958 Retrospective at The Downtown Gallery.
1959 Life Fellow, National Institute of Arts and Letters, NY. Doctor of Fine Arts Zurich and Pratt Institute. Retrospectives at Pratt Institute and Newark Museum.
1961 Dies at Great Neck on October 4.

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