Early Abstract and Modernist Painting

Max Weber (1881–1961)

Construction, 1915

Oil on canvas, 22 7/8 x 27 7/8 in. (58.1 x 70.8 cm). Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Collection, 1987.31

A modernist painter, printmaker, sculptor, and writer, the Russian-born Jewish-American artist Max Weber lived and worked in New York City for most of his career. From 1905 to 1909 he was in Paris, where he associated with European avant-garde artists and intellectuals. Produced after his return to the United States, Construction is an abstract composition of intersecting planes and lines. Roughly applied strokes of mottled, neutral colors suggest three dimensional forms that resolve and dissolve. Like many of his contemporaries, Weber was interested in the idea of a fourth dimension, famously articulated by the French philosopher Henri Bergson (1859–1941) in his conception of a dynamic, everchanging universe. Weber regarded the city as the quintessential manifestation of the relentless flux that characterized modernity. While not a depiction of a specific setting, Construction reflects the chaos and vitality of urban America.

Learn more about this painting on the Terra Foundation website.