My Introduction to Art and Meaning: George Weber Jr.

In 1969, Dr. George Weber Jr. at Rutgers at Newark, New Jersey introduced me to the nature of meaning in art: I was taking his “Art and Aesthetics” class as a requisite for majoring in art education; George introduced the class to the Venus of Willendorf, explaining what it meant, how it conveyed that meaning both tactilely and visually, how it represented an existing canon and, by extension, the existence of a master apprentice system; then, he demonstrated how the modern artist fails to convey this meaning even when he attempts to replicate the piece for a museum exhibit. Then George went on to discuss the art of cave painting and the canon of glyphs.
I was hooked. I became George’s student and research assistant: my job was to take slides and run the slide projector; in addition, I was taught to draw Chinese bronze ornament designs: this line of training came to an end following a summer when the slide librarian failed to make the requisitioned slides and I had to haul my tail to produce them for the art history class.
I spent three years under George’s tutelage, taking a second senior year. Not only did he teach me the basics of drawing and color, he introduced me to the psychodynamics of seeing: the formal elements of vision and how they create effects in the viewer. In the final year, as part of an assignment, I wrote a manuscript on these dynamics: this entailed reading the writings of the three initial founders of Gestalt psychology, and the writings of the artists Wassily Kandinsky, Joseph Albers, and Paul Klee; yet, in the end, it came down to taking the formal elements (i.e., light and dim, area, shape, line, and point), contemplating them as they were in front of me, and discovering their psychodynamics: what did they do individually and when in a group. At the end of the year, I turned in a thin volume that fulfilled the assignment (there is more but that involves my being an ass and I won’t cover that here).
The understanding which I acquired of the psychodynamics of vision after many hours of observation is the foundation of all my work I have done since. My plans for this blog include writing on this understanding.
At the end of the year, as I was leaving his office and his private assistant was packing the office, George pointed his finger at me and said, “The next thing you need to learn is the parabola.” That statement set my direction on a path that led to my mentor at graduate school at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in North Carolina.

  1. hi, for a very peculiar reason I discovered George Weber Jr. and one of his book. Do you know where did he study and who was his professor? Did he study with an American or German professor? Thank you Francesca
    ps: I read the back of his book but I couldn’t find this info.

    • I apologize Francesca for my tardy response.

      The only book I recall that George wrote was his book “Late Chou Dynasty Bronzes;” that may not be the correct title but it is the subject matter. My understanding is that it was his Ph.D. dissertation. I do know that he once had a short series on art on PBS; but when, I do not know.

      As for his education and mentor, I do not know his mentor; but I think he went to two colleges in Pennsylvania: one, I think is Temple University, and the other might have been the Pennsylvania Academy for Fine Art; I also understand he went to Académie royale des Beaux-Arts de Bruxelles; but my memory is not clear.

      He was both an accomplished artist and art historian.

      • Thanks. I’m also slow in responding…

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