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Painting as an act of creation

Max Weiler (1910 – 2001)


Max und Yvonne Weiler, 1993

The desire to find contemporary artistic answers to mankind’s eternal research for a real genuine reproduction of nature in its complete formal and spiritual depth is at the heart of Max Weiler’s art. As one of the most significant painters of the Austrian modern period in the 20th century, he developed his own pleasant pictorial world of new shapes and figures over nearly seven decades, standing out from the growing hegemony of post 1945 abstract and concrete art.

A special, never exhibited and unsold selection of paintings in egg tempera and drawings from the two most important productive periods of the early 60s and 80s offer the opportunity to view the powerful language of the painter in a new way and to purchase specific works for one’s own collection, too. Gallery owners W&K -Wienerroither & Kohlbacher, experts in 20th century Austrian art, have selected their noble dependence located in the Schönborn Batthyány Palace in the 1st district of Vienna to host the exhibition. The location would have pleased the painter because its Baroque halls are spatially defined, that’s true; but they also offer visitors a way to truly experience depth, aiding the pictures of this private collection momentously develop their infinite aura.

As shown by individual works at the Palais Schönborn-Batthyány, what is so convincing here is the force with which colours were brushed onto the canvas: nearly tangible bodies and harbingers of wisdom.

Max Weiler was a painter insofar as understood by the ancient demiurges: he saw himself as creator of his own world, an analogous one to nature. However, it was a long weaning process (indeed, lasting decades) until he finally shook off the traditional reproductions of the visible world and developed an ever deeper understanding for the inner connections in nature, its energy, and the repeating principles of existence and transience. He was brought up in, at the time, an unspoilt and lush natural area in Tirol. Max Weiler experienced the strength and opposite sides of nature as well as the artistic answers within nature more forcefully than anyone else. His own art had to tackle these dominating, demanding and inspiring requirements right from the very start. The decisive moment came at the end of the 50s. Max Weiler was 50 years old when he freed himself completely from the shackles of a ‘copycat’ art and created a pictorial nature, ‘which was as lively as the real one, bursting with coincidence and yet ordered.

A nature, ‘lacking that naturalism and replaced by a new creation of life-like trees, grass, clouds, earth, and air.’ In the Als alle Dinge cycle he tried to implement the richly allegorical and abstract language of biblical psalms found in the translation of the mystic Eckhart not figuratively but, for the first time ever, by using colours and gestures in a painting.

As shown by individual works at the Palais Schönborn-Batthyány, what is so convincing here is the force with which colours were brushed onto the canvas: nearly tangible bodies and harbingers of wisdom. This cycle is a more peaceful one, following the tempestuous Wie eine Landschafy series. ‘The sway, the air, nature, rocks, unspoilt by mankind, peace, the weight of nature, blood. A plant,’ are expressed in an astoundingly harmonic and poetic way in these paintings. Using earth-like hues to represent flora, Max Weilers makes his constantly flowing but shapeless figures sway in an imaginary space of great depth which convey a very peaceful, sensual, and meditative vibe to his paintings. Max Weiler began to collect his thoughts in so called day and night notebooks starting from the 60s, while he tried to paint his paintings only using his intuition, pinched from ‘the other part of my consciousness.’

Weitgestreckte Landschaft, 1983, Eitempera auf Leinwand, 200 x 680 cm

At the age of 54, Max Weiler took over a masterclass in painting at the Akademie in Vienna, which he only relinquished after being awarded an Emeritus degree in 1981. In the following 20 years, Max Weiler completed other work cycles that can’t be really considered a ‘later period’, rather more a fantastical accumulation of his pictorial reflections and solutions. The Waldtempel from 1981 offers a convincing presentation of his latest work at the Vienna exhibition, while Weitgestreckte Landschaft from 1983, with its impressive nigh-on 7 metres’ width, represents a pictorial highlight of this special selection of work over time. The new nature as interpreted by Weiler celebrated in these paintings is triumphal, using light and positive colours. A rhythmic and explosive style bursting with pictorial richness and graphic sweetness.

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ist Kunstexpertin für Malerei des 19. und 20. Jhdts. Langjährige Autorin für die Kunstzeitschrift PARNASS, zahlreiche Katalogbeiträge; Autorin der Werkverzeichnisse zu Rudolf von Alt und Theodor von Hörmann; Kuratorin der Ausstellung über Theodor von Hörmann im Leopold Museum, Wien, 2016.


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