Max Weber at work 1910-1912 : 'primitive' experiments beyond the known dimensions

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2015-08

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Plunger, Brady James

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This thesis seeks to build on earlier interpretations of Weber's writings and paintings in the years between 1910 and 1912 by illustrating how the contemporary discourses of primitivism inflected Weber's assimilation of these and other areas of knowledge into his understanding of the intellectual, affective, and sensorial processes involved in the making and viewing of art. Of particular interest here are the intersections that Weber created in his two 1910 essays, "The Fourth Dimension from a Plastic Point of View" and "Chinese Dolls and Modern Colorists," between certain key primitivist tropes, his interest in "plastic" formal values and aspects of popular science and mathematics, and the wider cultural fascination with the spiritual. This thesis explores this web of associations to reveal that Weber's transformative engagement with primitivism alongside these other key concerns that governed his theorizing on the function and value of works of art. Central to this thesis are Weber's two 1910 texts along with his paintings of 1910-1912, including his "Crystal Figures," which stand as Weber's most substantive theoretical and aesthetic statements at this early moment of his career. These various productions are analyzed simultaneously to illustrate the ways in which Weber's writings and visual experimenting complement each other and reveal the novel ways in which he integrated diverse areas of knowledge into his arguments for the importance of art in the new world of the twentieth century.

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