Max Weber: life and works


Max Weber

Karl Emil Maximilian «Max» Weber (21 April 1864 – 14 June 1920) was a German sociologist, philosopher, jurist, and political economist whose ideas profoundly influenced social theory and social research. Weber is often cited, with Émile Durkheim and Karl Marx, as among the three founders of sociology.

The American painter Max Weber (1881-1961) sampled various styles, including cubism, before turning to representation in 1918. Thereafter, he developed a style which was personal and expressionistic but incorporated elements from his earlier, experimental phase.

Max Weber was born on April 18, 1881, in Belostok, Russia, the son of a tailor. In 1891 the family emigrated to America, settling in Brooklyn, N.Y. Max entered Pratt Institute in 1898; he took courses in manual training and art with a teaching career as his goal. After he graduated in 1900, he studied with Arthur Wesley Dow for a year. Weber then taught manual training and drawing in Virginia and Minnesota.

Content

Max Weber biography

Max Weber art

Max Weber facts

Max Weber paintings

Max Weber quotes

Max Weber biography

 

In 1905 Weber went to Paris, where he studied with Jean Paul Laurens at the Académie Julian and went to life classes at the Académie de la Grande Chaumie‧re and Académie Colarossi. In 1907 he saw the Paul Cézanne retrospective at the Salon d’Automne. Weber soon acquired an interest in Fauve art and began to paint in a style inspired by it. In 1907 he helped form a class with Henri Matisse as its teacher and joined the class for a year. Weber exhibited in 1906 and 1907 at the Indépendants and in 1907 and 1908 at the Salon d’Automne.

In 1909 Weber returned to New York City. By 1912 his style had changed, as he embraced cubism more and more. His best-known work of this period is Chinese Restaurant (1915). Though it is an abstraction, he epitomizes in it the atmosphere of a restaurant, with tile floors, festive decorations, and frenetic waiters. His use of bright color and varieties of robust patterns allied him more with such cubists as Albert Gleizes and Jean Metzinger than Pablo Picasso or Georges Braque. By 1918 Weber had moved away from abstraction. His paintings of the 1920s and 1930s feature figures in compositions, which are Cézannesque, contemplative, and poetic. In the late 1930s he turned to the contemporary scene in such paintings as At the Mill (1939), The Haulers (1939), and The Toilers (1942).

Mindful of his Jewish heritage, Weber began to exploit Hasidic themes in a highly mannered, expressionist fashion. His giddy Talmudic scholars respond to the mildest occasion with an excess of agitation and bounce. One work in this style is Adoration of the Moon (1944). He had his first one-man show in New York City in 1909, was represented in the famous Armory Show of 1913, and exhibited regularly thereafter. In 1929 he moved to Great Neck, Long Island, where he died on Oct. 4, 1961.

Max Weber art

Max Weber (1881 — 1961) was among the first artists to carry the modernist revolution to the United States. In 1905 he ventured to Paris, where he studied with Henri Matisse (1869 — 1954) and witnessed the development of the fauve and cubist styles. Upon returning to America in 1909, he forged a personal vision from these vocabularies as well as elements of the art of Aztec, Mayan, Egyptian, Greek, Oceanic, and northern Pacific cultures. Weber became one of the first American artists to apply these diverse approaches to printmaking, frequently using color at a time when black-and-white prints were ubiquitous in American art.

Beginnings

Born in the western Russian (now Polish) town of Bialystok, a center for textile production, Weber recounted that his earliest memory was of his grandfather mixing colorful fabric dyes, which instilled in him a love of bold color and form. At age ten Weber emigrated to Brooklyn, New York, and seven years later entered Pratt Institute, where Arthur Wesley Dow (1857 — 1922) was his mentor. An influential teacher, Dow (who had studied with Paul Gauguin [1848 — 1903]), championed the use of flat masses of color and a vibrant line as found in Japanese prints. After graduating, Weber taught in schools in Virginia and Minnesota, which financed a three-year stay abroad.

Paris

In Paris, Weber encountered the paintings of Paul Cézanne (1839 — 1906), whose use of geometric elements to suggest solid form profoundly affected his style. Weber considered this the turning point in his life. He also met Henri Matisse, who taught an informal class that Weber helped organize. Matisse was a member of the Fauves («wild beasts»), a group whose work was characterized by the use of bold, non-naturalistic color for expressive effects. The Fauves sought to integrate form and color, which reinforced Dow’s earlier lessons. Through Weber’s association with such avant-garde artists as Pablo Picasso (1881 — 1973), whom he met at gatherings hosted by the American collectors Gertrude and Leo Stein, he came to exhibit with the most advanced artists of his day. He also was introduced to printmaking, probably by Abraham Walkowitz (1880 — 1965), another American artist in Paris who shared Weber’s interest in modernism.

By late 1908, Weber had run out of money and reluctantly returned to New York. Like many modernists, he found inspiration in African art and is thought to have brought some of the first examples to the United States. While in Paris, he acquired a collection of works by Henri Rousseau (1844 — 1910), from which the photographer Alfred Stieglitz (1864 — 1946) selected Rousseau’s first American show at his Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession (known as «291» for its address on Fifth Avenue). Weber also returned home with reproductions of works by Cézanne—among the first images by the master to cross the Atlantic.

New York

Weber found New York transforming itself into an industrial metropolis; the city’s artistic milieu, however, was conservative in comparison to that of Paris. In New York, a group of artists called «The Eight»—among them, Robert Henri (1865 — 1929), Arthur B. Davies (1862 — 1928), and John Sloan (1871 — 1951)—were considered radical simply for depicting the banalities of daily life. Weber’s paintings, with their brash color and stylized forms, were virtually incomprehensible to critics and the public. It is no wonder that Weber’s exhibitions at the Haas, Murray Hill, and 291 galleries met with derision, as did his show at the Newark Museum. However, through these exhibitions Weber gained the support of some of the most forward-looking American artists and intellectuals of his day, such as Stieglitz and the painter/connoisseur Arthur B. Davies.

Crouching Nude Figure

Weber’s investigative spirit is evident in Crouching Nude Figure (1910/1911), one of his earliest prints. The artist trans formed the humblest material — here, a scrap of discarded linoleum — into a work of subtlety and strength by cutting lines into the soft block with a pen knife.To print, Weber rubbed ink over the linoleum surface, then overlaid paper, placed a book on top, and stood on it to obtain the pressure necessary to transfer ink to paper. While seemingly casual, the effects are calculated. The uneven application of ink contrasts with the hard-edged lines, and the diaphanous, buff paper adds warmth. The choice of papers is important to many of Weber’s prints; a woodcut, Head of a Man (1919/1920), is printed on gray mica paper. Stylistically, Crouching Nude Figure shows the influence of Japanese prints in its expressive contours and carefully balanced composition. The influence of African sculpture appears in the figure’s elongated forms and masklike features. The flat, sectioned elements anticipate Weber’s cubist phase.

Head of a Man

Figuration to Fracture

Weber’s development of a cubist approach—the depiction of a subject from multiple, simultaneous viewpoints—can be visualized by comparing three drawings. The earliest, Standing Nude with Upraised Arm (1910), showcases Weber’s mastery of draftsmanship. While the elongated features and formal pose are reminiscent of ancient Egyptian art, volume is rendered traditionally with gradations of tone. Dancer in Green (1912), is less concerned with representing volume and more with reducing forms to geometric elements: the figure’s dress is here transformed into a triangle. The drawing is one in a series of translucent figures created between 1910 and 1912, which Weber called «crystal figures»; they are among the earliest cubist images in American art. The later Cubist Figure (1915) signals a more complex geometric fragmentation, with multiple suggestions of body parts, as if the artist had recorded several visual encounters with his subject.

Dancer in Green

Weber, Stieglitz, and other New York artists adopted the modern megalopolis as a fresh subject for art, and Weber’s Interior of the Fourth Dimension (1913) evokes the city through layers of cubist scaffolding. The title refers to the concept of a fourth dimension envisioned by Albert Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity, which had been published in 1905. Weber wrote on its potential role in visual art for Stieglitz’s periodical Camera Work, expounding upon the fourth dimension as infinity and exploring its spiritual resonances.

Interior of the Fourth Dimension

Interior of the Fourth Dimension was painted in the year of the New York Armory Show, the first comprehensive exhibition of modern art in the United States. Weber was asked to submit two works, an honor that he declined, believing that he deserved to be more extensively represented. The painting shows that by 1913 Weber had become fluent in the cubist style, relating his art to such works as Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2, 1912 (Philadelphia Museum of Art), a revolutionary painting that collected multiple stages of a figure’s movement into a single image. A similar fascination with representing movement can be seen in Weber’s Rush Hour, New York (1915). While retaining cubist fracture, Rush Hour, New York snips the picture plane into diagonal bits of rushing city life. Such forms echo the Italian futurists, a group of artists and writers consumed with the dynamism of modern transportation and technology; Weber likely knew their work through essays and reproductions. Rhythm Interlaced of the same year, takes form, color, and motion as its essential subjects. Even the title refers to the structure and dynamics within the picture, a triangular arrangement in pale greens, reds, blues, and browns that balances a constellation of lyrical gray waves. Cézanne’s reduction of forms to geometric shapes has been taken to its logical conclusion in such pastels, which are among Weber’s purist abstractions.

Return to the Human Figure

By 1917 Weber was seeking a more humanistic voice than he felt abstract painting could provide. His figures became less fractured and were often integrated with scenes from daily life. In virtually all of his woodcuts and linocuts, Weber cultivated unique images through accident, invention, and variation. Evidence of this can be seen in three versions of Crouching Nude (1919/1920). The impression printed in brown reveals the elegant cutting of the block and the carefully established equilibrium between dark and light spaces. A second impression retains brown in the background but highlights the figure in pale tan; fingerprints at the shoulder reveal the artist’s application of color with his fingers. A third version employs a redder background without border tone along the top and upper sides. Marks in areas adjacent to the hair line are printed from the block without being carved into the wood, an unusual technique for American printmaking at this time.

solo

Crouching Nude was printed from one of approximately twenty-five wood blocks that Weber cut in the winter of 1919 — 1920 using basswood recycled from a gift box of honeycomb. The format of the original package can be seen in some images—the dovetailed corners in Seated Figure (1919/1920), or the castellated pattern of the box’s joints at the base of Head of a Man. These prints unite Cézanne’s grasp of form with the masklike heads and totems of African art and reveal Weber’s profound understanding of both. Universal themes such as motherhood and the nude dominate the series. With the death of his father in 1917, Weber turned inward toward his spiritual and cultural heritage and became one of the few American moderns to adopt religious subject matter; Rabbi (1920) reflects this new territory. By the early 1930s, printmaking played a diminishing role in his work, and his later pictures explored the figure, landscape, and still life in expressive canvases that continued to be experimental and adventurous while avoiding the fully abstract.

Max Weber facts

  • Weber saw religion as one of the core forces in the society.
  • His goal was to find reasons for the different development paths of the cultures of the Occident and the Orient.
  • Weber also proposed a socioevolutionary model of religious change, showing that in general, societies have moved from magic to polytheism, then to pantheism, monotheism and finally, ethical monotheism.
  • According to Weber, this evolution occurred as the growing economic stability allowed professionalisation and the evolution of ever more sophisticated priesthood.
  • As societies grew more complex and encompassed different groups, a hierarchy of gods developed and as power in the society became more centralised, the concept of a single, universal God became more popular and desirable.
  • Weber proposed 3 types of political leadership: charismatic domination (familial and religious), traditional domination (patriarchs, patrimonialism, feudalism) and legal domination (modern law and state, bureaucracy).
  • Defined 3 types of classes: Social (economic factors), Status (religion, honor, prestige), and Party (political affiliation).
  • The social world is fundamentally divided between the educated elite, following the guidance of a prophet or wise man and the uneducated masses whose beliefs are centered on magic (magic could be a lot of things).
  • Confucianism’s goal was «a cultured status position», while Puritanism’s goal was to create individuals who are «tools of God».
  • He wrote 4 key essays on the sociology of religion. Three main themes in these essays were the effect of religious ideas on economic activities, the relation between social stratification and religious ideas and the distinguishable characteristics of Western civilisation.

Max Weber quotes

“Politics is a strong and slow boring of hard boards. It takes both passion and perspective. Certainly all historical experience confirms the truth — that man would not have attained the possible unless time and again he had reached out for the impossible. But to do that a man must be a leader, and not only a leader but a hero as well, in a very sober sense of the word. And even those who are neither leaders nor heroes must arm themselves with that steadfastness of heart which can brave even the crumbling of all hopes. This is necessary right now, or else men will not be able to attain even that which is possible today.”

“it is not true that good can follow only from good and evil only from evil, but that often the opposite is true. Anyone who fails to see this is, indeed, a political infant.”

“In a democracy the people choose a leader in whom they trust. Then the chosen leader says, ‘Now shut up and obey me.’ People and party are then no longer free to interfere in his business.”

“It is true that the path of human destiny cannot but appal him who surveys a section of it. But he will do well to keep his small personal commentarie to himself, as one does at the sight of the sea or of majestic mountains, unless he knows himself to be called and gifted to give them expression in artistic or prophetic form. In most other cases, the voluminous talk about intuition does nothing but conceal a lack of perspective toward the object, which merits the same judgement as a similar lack of perspective toward men.”

“It is horrible to think that the world could one day be filled with nothing but those little cogs, little men clinging to little jobs and striving towards bigger ones — a state of affairs which is to be seen once more, as in the Egyptian records, playing an ever-increasing part in the spirit of our present administrative system, and especially of its offspring, the students. This passion for bureaucracy … is enough to drive one to despair. It is as if in politics … we were deliberately to become men who need «order» and nothing but order, become nervous and cowardly if for one moment this order wavers, and helpless if they are torn away from their total incorporation in it. That the world should know no men but these: it is such an evolution that we are already caught up, and the great question is, therefore, not how we can promote and hasten it, but what can we oppose to this machinery in order to keep a portion of mankind free from this parcelling-out of the soul, from this supreme mastery of the bureaucratic way of life.”

“The fate of an epoch that has eaten of the tree of knowledge is that it must…recognize that general views of life and the universe can never be the products of increasing empirical knowledge, and that the highest ideals, which move us most forcefully, are always formed only in the struggle with other ideals which are just as sacred to others as ours are to us.”

“No sociologist, for instance, should think himself too good, even in his old age, to make tens of thousands of quite trivial computations in his head and perhaps for months at a time.”

“Calvinist believers were psychologically isolated. Their distance from God could only be precariously bridged, and their inner tensions only partially relieved, by unstinting, purposeful labor.”

“…the ultimately possible attitudes toward life are irreconcilable, and hence their struggle can never be brought to a final conclusion. Thus it is necessary to make a decisive choice. Whether, under such conditions, science is a worth while ‘vocation’ for somebody, and whether science itself has an objectively valuable ‘vocation’ are again value judgments about which nothing can be said in the lecture-room. To affirm the value of science is a presupposition for teaching there. I personally by my very work answer in the affirmative, and I also do so from precisely the standpoint that hates intellectualism as the worst devil, as youth does today, or usually only fancies it does. In that case the word holds for these youths: ‘Mind you, the devil is old; grow old to understand him.’ This does not mean age in the sense of the birth certificate. It means that if one wishes to settle with this devil, one must not take flight before him as so many like to do nowadays. First of all, one has to see the devil’s ways to the end in order to realize his power and his limitations.”

“The purely emotional form of Pietism is, as Ritschl has pointed out, a religious dilettantism for the leisure class.”

“The ultimately possible attitudes toward life are irreconcilable, and hence their struggle can never be brought to a final conclusion.”

“Its entry on the scene was not generally peaceful. A flood of mistrust, sometimes of hatred, above all of moral indignation, regularly opposed itself to the first innovator.”

“No one knows who will live in this cage in the future, or whether at the end of this tremendous development entirely new prophets will arise, or there will be a great rebirth of old ideas and ideals, or, if neither, mechanized petrifaction, embellished with a sort of convulsive self-importance. For of the last stage of this cultural development, it might well be truly said: ‘Specialists without spirit, sensualists without heart; this nullity imagines that it has attained a level of civilization never before achieved.”

“The ability of mental concentration, as well as the absolutely essential feeling of obligation to one’s job, are here most often combined with a strict economy which calculates the possibility of high earnings, and a cool self-control and frugality which enormously increase performance.”

“In Baxter’s view the care for external goods should only lie on the shoulders of the “saint like a light cloak, which can be thrown aside at any moment”.114 But fate decreed that the cloak should become an iron cage.”

“The fate of our times is characterized by rationalization and intellectualization and, above all, by the disenchantment of the world.”

“That in East Prussia Frederick William I tolerated the Mennonites as indispensable to industry,”

“Remember, that money is of the prolific, generating nature. Money can beget money, and its offspring can beget more, and so on.”

“After industry and frugality, nothing contributes more to the raising of a young man in the world than punctuality and justice in all his dealings;”

“Beware of thinking all your own that you possess, and of living accordingly. It is a mistake that many people who have credit fall into.”

References and useful Resources

  1. biography.yourdictionary.com
  2. nga.gov
  3. goodreads.com
Max Weber: life and works
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