Meet Max Weber

Profile June 24, 2020

Born in Poland, artist Max Weber (1881–1961) emigrated with his parents to America as a child. After studying art at the Pratt Institute, he furthered his studies in Paris, where he spent several years beginning in 1905. An early work by the artist in our collection is a drawing from this period.

An ink drawing of a ship with tall sails on the water
Max Weber, Untitled, 1907, Carnegie Museum of Art

During his years in Paris, Weber became immersed in the avant-garde movement. He met, befriended, and was influenced by many French and fellow American modernist artists. He returned to New York in 1909.

Weber was one of the first American artists to adopt cubism; this period of his output is represented in our collection by this small work in graphite and gouache.

An abstract, cubist artwork featuring layered faces
Max Weber, The Discussion, 1918, Carnegie Museum of Art

Photographer Alvin Langdon Coburn (1882-1966) included Max Weber as one of 33 important authors, artists, and statesmen in his famous 1913 publication Men of Mark.

An old-fashioned portrait of a man with short hair and closed eyes, wearing a heavy jacket and ascot
Alvin Langdon Coburn, Max Weber, New York, February 7th, 1911, 1913, Carnegie Museum of Art

Critical reception to Weber’s work during this time was mostly unfavorable; wider recognition of his modernist period came considerably later. This was, at least in part, the reason that, beginning in the early 1920s, Weber adopted a more representational style, often featuring Jewish themes, which brought him wider popularity.

Weber was also a collector of works by other artists. Weber owned this painting by Henri Rousseau (1844-1910) for more than 50 years. Weber purchased the painting from Rousseau during a visit to his friend’s Paris studio in 1908. He kept it in his collection until his death in 1961.

A serene painting of a large, neutral-colored house settled among tall trees and green hills; next to the house a long pathway stretches into the distance
Henri Julien Rousseau, House on the Outskirts of Paris, ca. 1905, Carnegie Museum of Art