Armory Show  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Many exhibitions have been held in the vast spaces of U.S. National Guard armories, but the Armory Show refers to the "International Exhibition of Modern Art" that opened in New York City's 69th Regiment Armory, on Lexington Avenue between 25th and 26th Streets, on February 17, 1913, ran to March 15, and became a legendary watershed date in the history of American art, introducing astonished New Yorkers, accustomed to realistic art, to modern art. The show served as a catalyst for American artists, who became more independent and created their own "artistic language".

The Armory Show, organized by Walter Pach, Arthur B. Davies and Walt Kuhn, displayed some 1,250 paintings, sculptures, and decorative works by over 300 avant-garde European and American artists. Impressionist, Fauvist, and Cubist works were represented.

News reports and reviews were filled with accusations of quackery, insanity, immorality, and anarchy, as well as parodies, caricatures, doggerels and mock exhibitions. About the modern works, President Theodore Roosevelt declared, "That's not art!!!"

Among the scandalously radical works of art, pride of place goes to Marcel Duchamp's Cubist/Futurist style Nude Descending a Staircase, painted the year before, in which he expressed motion with successive superimposed images, as in motion pictures. An art critic for the New York Times wrote that the work resembled "an explosion in a shingle factory," and cartoonists satirized the piece.

However, the purchase of Paul Cézanne's Hill of the Poor (View of the Domaine Saint-Joseph) by the Metropolitan Museum of Art signaled an integration of modernism into the established New York museums, but among the younger artists represented, Cézanne was already an established master.

Duchamp's brother, who went by the "nom de guerre" Jacques Villon, also exhibited, sold all his Cubist paintings and struck a sympathetic chord with New York collectors who supported him in the following decades.

The exhibition went on to show in Chicago and Boston.

Legacy

Starting with a small exhibition in 1994, by 2001 the "New" New York Armory Show, held in piers on the Hudson River, evolved into a "hugely entertaining" (New York Times) annual contemporary arts festival with a strong commercial bent.

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Armory Show" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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