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Max Weber papers, 1902-2008

Max Weber papers, 1902-2008

Weber, Max, 1881-1961

Sculptor, Painter

Collection Information

Size: 11.8 linear feet

Summary: The papers of New York painter and sculptor Max Weber measure 11.8 linear feet and date from 1902-2008. The collection documents Weber's career as an artist through scattered biographical material; correspondence with artists, curators, universities, arts organizations, and others; exhibition and gallery files; personal business records; writings by Weber and others; exhibition catalogs, news clippings, and other printed material; photographs of Weber, exhibitions, and works of art; audio recordings and motion picture films. Also included are records maintained by Joy Weber on the exhibition and sale of Weber's work after his death.

Biographical material includes biographical summaries, obituaries, award certificates, and a small amount of family memorabilia. Weber's personal and professional correspondence includes discussions of exhibitions, sales, and donations of his work, as well was requests to teach, write, or lecture. Also found is correspondence with arts organizations, clubs, and committees in which he participated. A small amount of family correspondence is also included. Artists that Weber corresponded with include George Biddle, Arthur Davies, William Gropper, Chaim Gross, Marsden Hartley, Rockwell Kent, Leon Kroll, Barnett Newman, Raphael Soyer, and William Zorach, among many others. Weber also corresponded with many art historians and critics, gallery owners, and art patrons. Joy Weber's correspondence primarily concerns the exhibition, loan, sale, and authentication of her father's artwork.

Exhibition files document various solo and group exhibitions of Weber's work. Five reels of motion picture film include footage of an exhibition at the Forum Gallery in 1975. Gallery files include correspondence, inventories, sales and loan records, gallery publications, and other documentation. Most files for exhibitions and galleries were created by Joy Weber after Max Weber's death in 1961. Personal business records include documents on sales, loans, and gifts of Max Weber's artwork; scattered financial documents; and mortgage and property records. Also found are files regarding his participation in the American Artists' Congress and art juries. Weber's writings primarily concern art theory, impressions of other artists, and social and political issues. Additionally, there are notes, drafts speeches, and writings by others about Weber.

Printed material is extensive and includes exhibition publications, press releases, and two published booklets written by Weber: "Art Consciousness" and "Things." Also found are news clippings, brochures, newsletters, and publications produced by art organizations, schools, and museums. Photographs include portraits and snapshots of Weber, depicting him working in his studio, participating in art juries, at art openings, and with his family. Photographs also depict installation views of exhibitions and numerous photographs of Weber's artwork. Audiovisual materials include one sound recording of a National Gallery program on Max Weber and five reels of motion picture film that include home movies and footage of an exhibition at the Forum Gallery in 1975.

Biographical/Historical Note

Max Weber (1881-1961) was a painter and sculptor in New York, N.Y. Weber was the National Chairman for the American Artists Congress in 1937.


Material was lent for microfilming in 1959 by Max Weber and in 1969 by Mrs. Max Weber and daughter, Joy Weber. The bulk of the microfilmed material and additional papers were donated in 2011 by Joy Weber.

Related Materials

Material lent for microfilming in 1959 and 1969 which was not included in the 2011 donation is available on microfilm reels NY59-6 to NY59-10, N69-82 to N69-88 and N69-112.

A Finding Aid to the Max Weber Papers,
, in the Archives of American Art
Biographical Note
Max Weber (1881-1961) was a painter and sculptor in New York City.
Weber was born in Bialystok, Russia. When he was ten years old his family moved to Brooklyn, New York. From 1898 to 1900 he attended Pratt Institute and studied theory and practice of design under Arthur Wesley Dow. After graduating he briefly taught drawing in Lynchburg, Virginia, and Duluth, Minnesota. In 1905 he moved to Paris to attend the Académie Julian, studying under Jean-Paul Laurens, and later attended classes at the Académie Colarossi and Académie de la Grande Chaumiere. In 1907 he attended Henri Matisse's studio class. The influence of Matisse and friend Henri Rousseau transformed Weber's painting style to include elements of cubism and fauvism.
Weber returned to New York in 1909, and over the next few years he frequently exhibited at Alfred Stieglitz's gallery 291. Initially his work was panned by American critics for being too modern. Despite criticism, Weber exhibited his work extensively in the 1910s, and also began creating abstract sculptures. In 1914 he helped his friend Clarence H. White open the White School of Photography and taught art history there for four years. Also in 1914 his
Cubist Poems
were published in London. His second book of poetry
was published in 1926.
In 1916 Weber married Frances Abrams. He began to explore narrative subjects in his paintings and in 1918 began carving woodblock prints. He also taught at the Art Students League for the 1919-1921 and 1926-1927 sessions. By the early 1920s he was recognized as an important American artist, serving as a leader in art organizations such as the Society of Independent Artists. In 1930 Weber became the first American modernist to have a retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art.
In the 1930s Weber became more active in political and socialist causes, participating in many organizations throughout the Depression and World War II. In 1937 he became the National Chairman of the American Artists' Congress. By the 1940s, his work was widely known and influenced a new generation of American painters. He continued to exhibit extensively, received many awards, such as the Temple Gold Medal at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and often served on art juries. In 1955 he was elected to the National Institute of Arts and Letters and received an honorary doctorate from Brandeis University. He died in Great Neck, New York, in 1961.
The collection is arranged as 9 series:
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1905-1995 (Box 1; 10 folders)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1902-2007 (Box 1-5; 4.2 linear feet)
Series 3: Exhibition Files, 1919-2003 (Box 5-6; 0.7 linear feet)
Series 4: Gallery Files, 1926-2005 (Box 6-7; 0.9 linear feet)
Series 5: Personal Business Records, 1906-2006 (Box 7; 0.8 linear feet)
Series 6: Writings, circa 1910s-1999 (Box 7-8; 0.6 linear feet)
Series 7: Printed Material, 1909-2008 (Box 8-10, 12; 2.6 linear feet)
Series 8: Photographs, 1930s-circa 2000 (Box 10-11; 1.1 linear feet)
Series 9: Audiovisual Material, 1954-2000 (Box 11, FC 13-17; 0.7 linear feet)
Material was lent for microfilming in 1959 by Max Weber and in 1969 by Mrs. Max Weber and daughter, Joy Weber. The bulk of the microfilmed material and additional papers were donated in 2011 by Joy Weber.
Processing Information
The collection was processed and a finding aid prepared by Erin Kinhart in 2012. Motion picture film reels were inspected and re-housed in 2016 with funding provided by the Smithsonian Collections Care and Preservation Fund.

Restrictions on Access

Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.

How to Cite This Collection

Max Weber papers, 1902-2008. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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