Rush Hour, New York is arguably the most important of Max Weber’s early modernist works that capture early 20th-century New York City's ultramodern urban spirit. The painting achieves a remarkably vivid sense of the city's frenetic pace through the artist’s adaptation of both the shallow, fragmented spaces of cubism and the rapid-fire, repeating forms of Italian futurism.
Weber was inspired by New York’s elevated railways and underground subways—mass transit systems that were among the most visible manifestations of the new urban age. These conveyances made it possible for hundreds of thousands of people to travel to and from work every morning and evening. Weber represented rush hour as what Alfred Barr, the scholar and first director of the Museum of Modern Art, called “a kinetograph of the flickering shutters of speed through subways and under skyscrapers.” Here the mundane annoyances and frustrations of commuting give way to the vast abstractions of space and time.