Max Weiler in front of the Austrian pavilion at the XXX. Biennale in Venice, 1960

It is not at all unusual for artists to return to themes found in their earlier works, to develop variations or, particularly in modern art, to create series. Such phenomena have been important and common as far back as Monet's "Cathedrals", Jawlensky's "Meditations" and Josef Albers' series "Homage to the Square". We encounter something different with Weiler, however. After considerable intervals of time, he returned to a few key paintings, transposing into his latest style those elements of them that had preoccupied him. As a result, we observe significantly different stylistic attitudes to an unchanged theme. But what is that theme? Can we even speak of thematic continuity given Weiler's progression from figurative to partly or completely abstract paintings? Closer observation shows that Weiler's purpose in returning to his theme was to capture the essence of the original painting, to follow the way it changed over time.


Weiler's sequences of paintings create strata in time. His works may fall into the category of painting about painting, but he was inspired by an interest in defining his own position rather in formal aspects. It is as if he carefully mapped out the historical space of his work and the framework within which he operated. This can be seen particularly clearly in his variations on "The Peasant Family" and his "Song of Songs" paintings.


The marriage of creator and creature, who are united in love, was as characteristic of Weiler as was his attempt, in a difficult personal and historical environment (1938-1945) following the collapse of the ideals of "Bund Neuland", to create a new foundation for his work through meticulous observation of human beings and nature. To see what is there: that maxim expresses his continuity. After 1945 Weiler returned to this earthly, worldly way of looking, which was deeply rooted in reality and the premises for which had already been created in the late 1930s.

Nature (from the Song of Songs I), 1933
Resin oil on plywood
171 x 121 cm
From the Song of Songs II, 1957
Oil on canvas
146 x 96 cm
From the Song of Songs III (Nature, painting - edged with white), 1959/60
Oil on canvas
150 x 108 cm
The peasant family, 1941
Oil on canvas
200 x 200 cm
Land Tirol Landessammlung
Transformed peasant family (painting - grey, composition I), 1958/59
Oil, egg tempera on canvas
114,5 x 143 cm
Sammlung Bank Austria
Further transformation of the peasant family (painting on yellow-orange and green), 1958/59
Oil on canvas
90 x 115 cm
Sammlung Dr. Wolfgang Klocker, Innsbruck
Last transformation of the peasant family (painting - light ground. Light ground with primeval figures), 1960
Oil, egg tempera on canvas
198 x 205 cm