|1913 International Exhibition of Modern Art |
(The Armory Show) Poster
Sunday marks the 100th anniversary of arguably the most famous art exhibition of the 20th centuryThis was the first large exhibition of Modern Art in North America - and much of it was by European artists who'd not previously been seen by art collectors in the USA.
Four thousand guests visited the rooms on the opening night.It's important to realise that up until this show, Americans who had not travelled were typically only familiar with Realism - artwork which attempted to represent what was real in an objective reality. In addition the powerful National Academy of Design was attempting to ignore it.
So what we have in New York in 1913, in effect, is a replay of the situation nearly 40 years earlier in Paris in 1874. The French Salon, like the National Academy, was the arbiter of national taste and was having no truck with the young upstarts who were painting in a new way. Thus the impact of the exhibition in New York is very much like to the impact of the First Impressionist Exhibition held in Paris between 15 April- 15 May 1874.
Which is why it's worth remembering!
After The Armory Show of 1913, artists working in the USA were influenced by the modern artwork by major European artists which was exhibited in this show - for the rest of the 20th century.
[Note" This started off as the feature for "Who's made a mark this week?" - but I got too interested in it and it began to take over the post - so WMAMTW will now publish tomorrow]
Why's it called The Armory Show?
The Armory Show was held in two rooms at the Sixty-ninth Regiment Armory at 68 Lexington Avenue, Manhattan in New York City from February 17th to March 15th 1913.
While usually a building associated with arms, the building is now a National Historic Landmark BECAUSE of its association with international fine art!
It is also nationally significant as the site of the 1913 International Exhibition of Modern Art, the first major exhibition of contemporary art in America, that revolutionized the nation's artistic tastes and perceptions. Some 1,300 works of art were displayed, and here for the first time many Americans saw the works of Cezanne, Van Gogh, Matisse and Picasso.
- Seccretary and American Painter Walt Kuhn (1877-1949) - he was charged with recording and maintaining many of the official primary source records pertaining to the Armory Show.
- painter-critic Walter Pach (1883-1958) - having developed friendships with artists such as Henri Matisse, Marcel Duchamp, and Constantin Brancusi, he was pivotal in involving modern European artists. He also wrote about Modern Art for the American public.
- progressive painter Arthur B. Davies (1862-1928) was the organising mastermind. He had already developed an in-depth knowledge of emerging trends in European and American art in the early 1910s
- Elmer McRae was the treasurer for the show
1300 works by 300 artists were exhibited in the 1913 Armory Show
|View of the Domaine Saint-Joseph (late 1880s)|
Oil on canvas, 25 5/8 x 32 in. (65.1 x 81.3 cm)
Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Collection, Wolfe Fund, 1913
Metropolitan Museum of Art
- Paul Cézanne (French Painter 1839–1906) Post Impressionist; often referred to as the "father of modern painting"
- Pierre Puvis de Chavannes (French painter 1824 – 24 October 1898) President and Co-Founder of the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts
- Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (French painter/printmaker 1796-1875)
- Gustave Courbet (French painter 1819 – 31 December 1877)
- Eugène Delacroix (French romantic artist 1798 – 13 August 1863)
- Vincent van Gogh ( Dutch post-Impressionist painter 1853-1890)
- Francisco Goya (Spanish painter - 1746-1828)
- Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres (French NeoClassical Painter 1780-1867)
|View of the Armory Show with the Brancusi Sculpture in foreground left|
Portrait of Mlle Pogany, 1912
exhibited at The Armory Show 1913
by Constantin Brancusi
White marble; limestone block, (44.4 x 21 x 31.4 cm)
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia
Living European Artists who exhibited included those who were breaking with traditions and most associated with Modern Art. They included:
- Pierre Bonnard (French painter/printmaker 1867-1947) Known for his intense use of colour. Founder member of Les Nabis
- Constantin Brâncuşi (Romanian 1876-1957) One of his sculptures (see above) in an abstracted style with clean lines was chosen for one of the postcards advertising the show
- Georges Braque (French painter and sculptor 1882-1963; developed Cubism with Picasso)
- Edgar Degas (French painter, printmaker and sculptor 1834-1917)
- Maurice Denis (French painter and member of the Symbolist and Les Nabis movements1870 – November 1943)
- André Derain,
- Marcel Duchamp (French artist, 1887-1968) Associated with Dadism and Suurrealism, Gis painting of a person descending the stairs represented motion through superimposing successive images in the same way as occurs in film
|Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2 |
(French: Nu descendant un escalier n° 2) 1912
Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968)
Philadelphia Museum of Art
sold to Frederick C. Torrey for $324.00 according to Walter Pach's sales records
This painting created a sensation when it was exhibited in New York in February 1913 at the historic Armory Show of contemporary art, where perplexed Americans saw it as representing all the tricks they felt European artists were playing at their expense. The picture's outrageousness surely lay in its seemingly mechanical portrayal of a subject at once so sensual and time-honored.Ann Temkin, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections (1995), p. 307
Duchamp's Nude Descending a Staircase (No. 2) sparked a storm of controversy at the International Exhibition of Modern Art held at the National Guard 69th Regiment Armory in New York in 1913. The painting was perceived by the majority of art critics to be utterly unintelligible, and it soon became the butt of jokes, jingles, and caricatures. The American Art Newsoffered a ten dollar reward to the first reader who could "find the lady"1 within the jumble of interlocking planes and jagged lines, and newspaper cartoonists had a field day with the painting, lampooning it with such titles as "The Rude Descending the Staircase (Rush Hour at the Subway)" and the memorable "Explosion in a Shingle Factory."Twentieth Century Painting and Sculpture in the Philadelphia Museum of Art (2000), p. 27
L'Atelier Rouge 1911
Oil on canvas, 162 x 130 cm.
In the collection of the MOMA
- Raoul Dufy,
- Jacob Epstein,
- Paul Gauguin,
- Augustus John,
- Wassily Kandinsky (Russian, 1866-1944)
- Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
- Fernand Léger,
- Édouard Manet,
- Claude Monet,
- Henri Matisse
- Edward Munch,
- Pablo Picasso, (Spanish painter, sculptor, printmaker, 1881-1973) Probably the most famous artist of the 20th Century.
- Camille Pissarro,
- Odilon Redon,
- Pierre-Auguste Renoir,
- Auguste Rodin,
- Henri Rousseau,
- Georges Seurat,
- Walter Sickert (German./British painter/printmaker - 1860-1942) Member of the Camden Town Group
- Paul Signac (French neo-impressionist painter 1863 – 15 August 1935) worked with Seurat
|Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde (La Bonne-Mère), Marseilles 1905|
oil on canvas, (88.9 x 116.2 cm)
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City
- New Jersey's Montclair Art Museum - The New Spirit: American Art in the Armory Show, 1913 February 17, 2013 - June 16, 2013 is displaying 40 from the original show's 800 works of American art.
- New-York Historical Society - The Armory Show at 100 later in the year aims to exhibit some 6% of the 1,200-plus works which were exhibited at the original show
The 2013 exhibition revisits the Armory Show from an art-historical point of view, shedding new light on the artists represented and how New Yorkers responded. It will also place this now-legendary event within the context of its historical moment in the United States and the milieu of New York City in ca. 1911–1913. To that end, music, literature and early film will be considered, as well as the political and economic climate.
- Smithsonian Institution:
- The Story of the Armory Show, online exhibition on the Archives of American Art's website
- To learn more, visit 1913 Armory Show: the Story in Primary Sources
- 1913 Armory Show: the Story in Primary Sources, digital timeline
- Highlights of the Armory Show
- Walter Pach notebook recording sales at the New York Armory Show, 1913 Feb. 18-Mar. 15
- AskArt - "New York Armory Show of 1913"
- Los Angeles Times - Culture Monster - The 1913 Armory Show shook the art world