Man Reading, 1918
Oil on composition board
9 x 6 inches
Signed and dated lower right
Max Weber arrived in Paris in 1905, where he was met with a progressive artistic community. As a pupil in Henri Matisse’s studio art class, Weber experimented with the master’s Fauvist color theories. Weber was also exposed to the early developments of Cubism through the work of Picasso and Georges Braque. The fragmented and repeated geometric shapes abstracted to depict African masks, musical instruments, and the female nude transformed Weber’s modernist painting style.
Weber’s paintings produced between 1910 and 1920 are among his most important works, and represent a period known as his “Cubist decade.” Man Reading depicts the torso of a seated, bearded man. Gazing downward, the man reads from a book, or perhaps a sheet of music. At the lower left sits a wooden string instrument. Weber explored the theme of performance in his paintings through images of vaudeville, theater, dance, music and athletic events, seeing them as emblematic of modern life.