The 1913 Armory Show: modern art comes to America
Staples, Shelley L. , Department of English, University of Virginia
Howard, Alan, Department of English, University of Virginia
Lauded as one of the most influential events in the history of American art, the Armory Show has a mythic legacy that rivals the raucous opening of Igor Stravinsky's ballet, "The Rite of Spring", in Paris. In the wake of previous large independent art exhibitions in France, Germany, Italy, and England, from February 17th to March 15th, 1913, New York's 69th Regiment Armory on Lexington Avenue between 25th and 26th streets was home to approximately 1250 paintings, sculptures, and decorative works by over 300 European and American artists. While the purchase of Cézanne's "Hill of the Poor" by the Metropolitan Museum of Art signaled an integration of modernism into official art channels, the shock and outrage proported from Duchamp's "Nude Descending the Staircase" and Matisse's "Luxury" connected the Armory Show, officially known as The International Exhibition of Modern Art, with an historic avant-garde whose duty was to question the boundaries of art as an institution. Reconsidering the narratives constructed by Armory Show critics, using the exhibition itself as a lens through which to evaluate their claims, is a two-fold process. The first step is to provide access to the material remnants of the Armory Show, the paintings and sculptures themselves. Though by no means complete, the tour of the Armory Show aims to present a skeleton map of the exhibition as it looked in 1913, with the 69th Regiment Armory divided into 18 individual galleries. Also included is commentary on each area of the exhibition, providing some understanding of how audiences came to see the works at the Armory. The second aspect of the project is an investigation of several widespread contentions held by Armory Show critics. The impact of these assertions on analyses of early 20th-century cultural production in America will be explored as well. These essays are an attempt to detail some of the Show's impact while offering alternatives to critical accounts of the past.
MA (Master of Arts)
Originally published on the XRoads site for the UVA American Studies program. Years range from 1995-2005. Content is captured at the level of functionality available on the date of capture.
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