Raphael, Max, 1889-1952

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Art historian and philosopher whose works reflect his attempt to forge a scientific methodology, on material foundations, for the analysis of artistic creation and the sociology of art.

From the description of Max Raphael papers, 1931-1989. (Getty Research Institute). WorldCat record id: 77615743

Biographical/Historical Note

Max Raphael, art historian and philosopher, was born August 27, 1889 in Schönlanke (West Prussia), Germany. Beginning in 1900 he studied jurisprudence and political economy with Gustav von Schmoller in Berlin and with Lujo Brentano in Münich. Against his father's wishes he changed his course of study to philosophy (with Georg Simmel) and the history of art (with Heinrich Wölfflin).

In 1911 he met Picasso, studied the works of the Impressionists and Matisse and Cezanne. He became friendly with Max Pechstein and artists of the Blaue Reiter school. Then in 1913 he published his first book, Von Monet zu Picasso which, as a dissertation, was turned down by Wölfflin. During 1912-1913 he lived in Paris and primarily worked on French medieval art, especially the stained glass of Chartres. Raphael moved to Lake Constance where he studied and wrote on such diverse topics as geology, biology, botany, medieval history and Shakespeare. He was inducted into the German army in 1915, deserted in 1917 and subsequently moved to Switzerland where he published a war diary, Geist wider Macht .

Raphael returned to Berlin in 1920 and published his second book, Idee and Gestalt, which he later rejected. He published articles in various art newspapers aligning himself with the Secessionist and Expressionist movements. Between 1925-1932 he taught at the Berlin Volkshochschule and it was here that he first confronted the Socialist movement. During this period he published Der dorische Tempel and Zur Kunsttheorie des dialektischen Materialismus .

In 1932 Raphael left Germany, resigning from the Volkshochschule after his course on dialectical materialism in Greece was rejected. Until 1939 he lived in Paris in very poor circumstances. With the help of friends he was able to publish Proudhon Marx Picasso in 1933 and Zur Erkenntnistheorie der konkreten Dialektik in 1934, with a French edition in 1938. During this time he studied the French Romanesque period, wrote on Flaubert, and wrote Arbeiter, Kunst und Künstler, not published until 1978. He also worked with the architect André Lurçat, in whose studio he gave lectures on modern architecture.

During World War II, Raphael was interned twice in France at Gurs and Les Milles but was able to immigrate to the United States in 1941. Until his death in 1952 he lived and worked in New York and was engaged with the problem of art history as a science. He wrote on the development of national socialism in Germany and began essays for his book, Kunstgeschichte als Wissenschaft . His essays on Egyptian and prehistoric art were based on his lectures at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and were meant to prove his theories of “empirischen Kunstwissenschaft”. He published two books from this material, Prehistoric Cave Pottery in 1945 and Prehistoric Pottery and Civilization in Egypt in 1947. The compilation of his analysis of works by artists such as El Greco, Hals, Tintoretto, Giotto, Picasso and Cézanne, became the manuscript for Wie will ein Kunstwerk gesehen sein? . Two further volumes were planned, one on architecture and one on sculpture, as well as a three volume work, Zur Ikonographie der quaternären Kunst .

His works reflect his attempt to forge a scientific methodology, on material foundations, for the analysis of artistic creation and the sociology of art.

Raphael committed suicide on July 14, 1952. Through the efforts of his wife, Emma Raphael, and a disciple, Ilse Hirschfeld, many of Max Raphael's works have been translated and published.

From the guide to the Max Raphael papers, 1931-1990, (Getty Research Institute)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn William McGuire Papers, 1868-1998, (bulk 1967-1997) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
creatorOf Raphael, Max, 1889-1952. Max Raphael papers, 1931-1989. Getty Research Institute
referencedIn Bollingen Foundation Records, 1927-1981, (bulk 1945-1973) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
creatorOf Max Raphael papers, 1931-1990 Getty Research Institute
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
correspondedWith Bollingen Foundation. corporateBody
associatedWith Cézanne, Paul, 1839-1906. person
associatedWith Cohen, R. S. (Robert Sonné) person
associatedWith Cohen, R. S. (Robert Sonné) person
associatedWith Greco, 1541?-1614. person
associatedWith Hirschfeld, Ilse person
associatedWith Hirshfeld, Ilse. person
associatedWith International Max Raphael Society. corporateBody
associatedWith Marx, Karl, 1818-1883. person
associatedWith Matisse, Henri, 1869-1954 person
associatedWith McGuire, William, 1917- person
associatedWith Perret, Auguste, 1874-1954. person
associatedWith Picasso, Pablo, 1881-1973. person
associatedWith Princeton University Press. corporateBody
associatedWith Raphael, Emma person
associatedWith Raphael, Emma. person
associatedWith Schaeffer, Claude F.-A. (Claude Frédéric-Armand), 1898-1982. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Aesthetics and the philosophy of art
Aesthetics, Modern
Aesthetics, Modern
Architecture, Romanesque
Architecture, Romanesque
Art and society
Art, Prehistoric
Creation in art
Creation (Literary, artistic, etc.)
Knowledge, Theory of
Painting, Modern
Painting, Modern
Painting, Modern
Philosophy, Marxist
Sculpture, Egyptian
Sculpture, Greek


Birth 1889-08-22

Death 1952-07-14







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