Wednesday, May 25, 2011

An American Artist

Born in 1881, in Bialystok, Russia, Max Weber* eventually became a leading artist in the American art scene.

Weber began his career with formal training at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, with the practical goal of becoming an art teacher. By the end of 1905, however, he had given up teaching to move to Paris and immerse himself in the European world of art. Paris at the turn of the century was a hotbed of artistic activity, and Weber associated with artist such as Henri Matisse, Gertrude Stein, Pablo Picasso and George Braque. The last two of these artists had the greatest impact on Weber’s work, as they introduced him to the newest movement in the art world (which they had started): Cubism.

Returning to America in 1909, Weber brought the modernist movements to the American art scene. Although he is noted as one of the foremost Cubists in American art, when he finally settled into a style that would be called his own, his paintings were personal, expressionistic but with elements of the earlier experimental work he had done. In 1930, a retrospective of Weber’s work, the first of an American artist, was held at the Museum of Modern Art.

There are many world-class artists in the world who are Jewish, but their Jewishness isn’t primary to their lives. In the later part of his career, however, Max Weber returned to his roots...artistically speaking. He used his paints to portray the world of the Chasidic Jews in paintings such as "Students of the Torah" (1940) and “Adoration of the Moon” (1944).

Max Weber died in October 1961.

In honor of Jewish American Heritage Month (May), Jewish Treats will be highlighting and celebrating exemplary Jewish Americans and exploring interesting points of Jewish American history.

*Not to be confused with Max Weber (1864-1920), the German sociologist and political economist.

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