Max Schnitzler- Possibly America's First Abstract Expressionist.
Portrait of Max Schnitzler painted by Robert A. Eckes Copyright, 2009 website: hudsonvalleypaintings.com
Excerpts from an interview between Max Schnitzler and Stuart Friedman, owner of NY School Art Gallery (regarding Max's beginnings in art):
I came from an Orthodox Jewish background and was born in Galizia(Austrian/Hungarian Empire)in 1903. From a very early age I was interested in making drawings. I always hated walls, doors and windows - it was the night before Passover. I looked at the blank wall and couldn't reach it to make a scribble. So, an idea came to me of using the end of the large bread baking board which was long, and then charring it - and then I had my charcoal. I drew a portrait of the Rabbi. When my mother saw this the next day, she was shocked and I still feel the pain on my bottom!
In 1920 we came to America. I was the only son and I had 5 sisters. We came to the land of oportunity escaping the ravages and persecutions of WWl. We lived in the Jewish section of NY City on Avenue C and 5th St. I knew nothing about NY but was told about a museum on Fifth Avenue. After going to this museum, things changed all at once. I never saw such wonderful art in all my life. I only spoke German at this time. There were two artists copying paintings there. They told me about Greenwich Village. I took the same bus that I took to the museum to the Village.
Pop, that's where I belong! I needed to be among artists. My father wanted me to be a baker and was not interested in my passion for art.
Max left home and met two other amateur painters and moved near the river - avenue D or so. The rent was $12. per month. I struggled alot. I sometimes made a painting and sold it for a couple of dollars. I had to do other work to make the rent. I delivered packages for a ladies garment maker. I also worked from 6:00 to 12:00 as an elevator operator. I painted in the daytime.
By 1927, I got a fellowship and studied at the Art Academy in Paris. I took the first trip on the Ille d'France. My parents would not even see me off! I studied for 4 years with Leger, Lhote and Ozenfant. I had a show at Zborowski Gallery in Paris. This was a fine gallery that exhibited Soutine and Modigliani!
Back in NY, Stuart Davis believed in me very much. He said "Max should exhibit". A collector sponsored a show at 6th Avenue and 10th Street. The owner of a great, popular and fancy restaurant (Romany Marie's)bought one of my paintings. In return gave me 6 months of meals! I ate well then: steaks, veal chops, etc. I never ate such food!
Zborowski Gallery, Paris
Columbia University, NY
Contemporary Art Gallery, NY
Roland de Aenile Gallery, NY
San Francisco Museum of Fine Arts
Whitney Museum of American Art
Cincinatti Art Museum
Denver Art Museum
Seattle Art Museum
Albright-Knox Art Gallery
Museum of Modern Art
Untitled Black and White. 1950's. Oil on canvas. Perfect untouched condition.
Poindexter Gallery show about New York School Artists with an early Schnitzler oil.
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