The superb art of Max Weber, and of 'Metal in Africa'; Our critic as a painter -- and a look at two touring shows
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It wasn't long before he was an active member of the New York art world. Two of his paintings were accepted for the 1913 Armory show, but were withdrawn by him when other works of his were rejected. And by 1915 he was beginning to receive the first real taste of success.Skip to next paragraph
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For a full accounting of Weber's art during this and subsequent periods, I recommend a touring exhibition - currently at the Jewish Museum here: ''Max Weber: American Modern.'' It is the most comprehensive showing of his art ever mounted, consisting of 150 paintings, sculptures, prints, and drawings - some of them never before shown publicly.
Organized by subject, the exhibition includes still lifes; figures (including portraits, nudes, genre, and themes of Jewish life and culture); landscapes; and cityscapes. All of Weber's painterly approaches are included, from academic student work, through early Cubist and Expressionist studies, to his mature, richly painted and highly personalized form of figurative Expressionism.
It is a memorable show, and a particularly rewarding one for anyone interested in the history of American art during the first half of this century. After its closing at the Jewish Museum, 1109 Fifth Avenue, on Jan. 16, it will travel to the Norton Gallery and School of Art, West Palm Beach, Fla., (Feb. 18 to April 10); the McNay Art Institute, San Antonio, Texas, (May 22 to July 31); and the Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha, Neb., (Aug. 27 to Nov. 5). ''The Art of Metal in Africa''
The African-American Institute's small but generally superb exhibitions of African art are always worthwhile.
Its current exhibition, ''The Art of Metal in Africa'' (later to tour) is no exception, thanks largely to Marie-Therese Brincard, the institute's art-exhibition director and the curator of this show.
It is exceptional for several reasons: the quality of its art, the rarity of such a selection of African metalwork in America (the last major show of this kind was held in Philadelphia in 1959), and the beautiful and effective way its 133 items are displayed.
Although most of the sculptures are small - and a few quite tiny - many covey a monumentality at odds with their actual size. That is true even though the pieces were executed in various metals (iron, silver, brass, tin, aluminum, and bronze) and come from different areas, mostly in West and Central Africa.
The broad selection includes rings, pendants, bracelets, vessals , staffs, bells, masks, and figures. Some pieces are extremely stylized and simple, others wonderfully sophisticated and complex. Among the latter is a remarkable kuduom (a type of cast bronze vessal often used by African royalty) from Ghana, an exceptional Nigerian bronze mask, and a small but stunning ceremonial bowl, whose specific point of origin is unknown.
I was also very taken by a marvelous bronze ''Bell in Human Shape'' from Nigeria, a bronze ''Anthropomorphic Figure'' from Eastern Nigeria, and a delightful bronze ''Hippopotamus'' also from eastern Nigeria.
After its closing at the African-American Institute, 833 United Nations Plaza , on Jan. 5, this excellent show will travel to the Sewall Gallery, Rice University, Houston (Feb. 3 to April 10) and then to the Charles W. Bowers Museum, Santa Ana, Calif. (June 18 to Sept. 5).