The Armory Show celebrates 102 years
This week marks the 102nd anniversary of the opening of the The Armory Show, one of America’s most important art exhibitions.
From February 17, 1913 to March 15, 1913, the International Exhibition of Modern Art showcased around 1,400 works from 300 American and European artists. The show was held in New York’s 69th Regiment Armory.
Park West Gallery collectors will be familiar with some of the artists that displayed their works, including:
- Paul Cezanne
- Henri Matisse
- Francisco Goya
- Henri Toulouse-Lautrec
- Pablo Picasso
- Pierre-Auguste Renoir
The show is considered one of the most influential events in American art history, as it shined a light on avant-garde styles that Americans were unaccustomed to viewing. Americans mostly familiar with realistic art came face-to-face with Fauvism, Cubism and Futurism with works like Matisse’s “Blue Nude”, (1907), and gave Cezanne recognition by an American museum.
As one reviewer put it:
“The visitor might just as well go straight to gallery I…where the Cubists reign supreme. If he has been a consistent follower of New York exhibitions the shock will be slight, and if he has been to Paris the sight will be familiar.”
People considered the show a “rebellion in art” or a “success by scandal.” In fact, one scandal involved students burning the “Blue Nude” painting in effigy in Chicago. However, despite all of this, the show was dubbed an overwhelming success.
The show has since inspired other efforts to expand the horizons of art in America. For instance, the show “9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering,” was held in the 69th Regiment Armory in the 1960s, showcasing the talents of artists and engineers through performance art.
The centennial celebration consisted of five shows, the first of which was held in the Montclair Art Museum on February 17. In October 2013, the New York Historical Society celebrated with an exhibition of more than 90 of the masterworks from the original show.
The Smithsonian Institute has created a timeline of the 1913 show, while American filmmaker Michael Maglaras produced a documentary about the show.