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Max Weber

Two Vases

For much of Max Weber’s career, he engaged spiritual themes in his work. He argued in 1916, “Humanity has yet fully to learn how to be conscious of the living spirit in the inanimate worlds. This they will learn through an appreciation and an awareness of fundamental art forms. . . . The flower is not satisfied to be merely a flower in light and space and temperature. It wants to be a flower in us, in our soul.” These ideas continued to guide him in his late career in such works as Two Vases.

The forms seem to materialize into three dimensions out of the two-dimensional space. With expressive brushstrokes, emphatic linearity, and tonal gradation, he conveys an inner vitality that, to him, represented the presence of a higher power. Critic Forbes Watson also perceives “a deeply religious point of view” in Weber’s still-lifes. Watson understands the floral still-lifes as an expression of the artist’s spiritual and emotional engagement with nature, rather than an investigation of material values, writing, “The still-life is one subject into which the unreligious cannot breathe the life which makes it more than a mere objective study.”

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