New York at Night
87 cm x 55.9 cm (34 1/4 in. x 22 in.)
(Belostok, Russia (now Bialystok, Poland, 1881 - 1961, Great Neck, New York)
North America, American
Medium and Support:
Oil on canvas
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, Gift of Mari and James A. Michener, 1991
Max Weber was one of the first American artists to fully synthesize the principles of European modernism and adapt them to a specifically American subject matter. Well acquainted with the debates and practices of Gertrude Stein, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Henri Rousseau, and other leading European artists and intellectuals whom he met while living in Paris, Weber helped introduce their avant-garde ideas to artists working in the United States when he returned to New York.
His own influential pulpit was Alfred Stieglitz’s journal Camera Work. In its pages he proposed his most important concept, the notion of a fourth dimension, or the extension of space into another realm beyond the three dimensions of the visible world. His speculative ideas found clear expression in the paintings he executed around 1910, which incorporated representations of movement and time.
New York at Night, completed five years later, reduces his impressions of time and place to a basic vocabulary of colorful geometric shapes and intersecting planes seen from multiple perspectives and enhanced by illusions of motion and reverberating sound. In works like this, Weber conveyed the speed, the action, and the dynamic energy of the city more abstractly than ever before in American painting.