The Armory Show , officially the International Exhibition of Modern Art , was an exhibition of works of art and sculpture of modernism that was held from February 17 to March 15, 1913 at the 69th Regiment Armory , the hall of the 69th Regiment of the National Guard on Lexington Avenue in New York City . She was then seen in Chicago and Boston . The exhibition had a great influence on the development of American art, and 1913 is often given as the beginning of modernism in America.
Based on this exhibition, an art fair founded in New York in 1994 was called The Armory Show - The International Fair of New Art .
In 1911 the artists Jerome Myers, Elmer MacRae and Walt Kuhn met the owner of the New York-based Madison Gallery , Henry Fitch Taylor. In the course of the conversation, it was decided to found an artists' association, the Association of American Painters and Sculptors . It should aim to organize contemporary art exhibitions in order to circumvent the National Academy of Design's academic exhibition rules. After several meetings and with a group of artists known as " The Eight " to which Robert Henri belonged, the foundation stone for the artists' association was laid on December 19, 1911. After long debates about the location of the exhibition, the building at 68, Lexington Avenue was found and rented for $ 5,000 , thanks to the financial support of art patrons Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney and Mabel Dodge Luhan . Other sponsors and vice-presidents of the show were the photographer and gallery owner Alfred Stieglitz , the art collector and patron Isabella Stewart Gardner and the artists Claude Monet and Odilon Redon . Another sponsor and lender of works of art was Lillie P. Bliss .
The election of Arthur B. Davies as president of the association had a decisive influence on the character of the exhibition, especially since he also had contacts with wealthy patrons and was extremely talented for organization. In the summer of 1912 Davies saw the catalog of the International Art Exhibition of the Sonderbund Westdeutscher Kunstfreunde und Künstler zu Cöln 1912 , which was shown in Cologne at that time , an exhibition that is considered the most important presentation of European modernism before the First World War and "in its structure a direct model of the [...]" Armory Show '”was. Davies had his secretary Walt Kuhn travel to Europe, whereupon he was able to visit the Sonderbund exhibition during the dismantling phase on September 30th . In The Hague , Amsterdam and Munich he contacted the art trade, for example in Berlin with Max Liebermann , the art dealer Alfred Flechtheim and the publisher Paul Cassirer , in order to organize the loans. In Paris , Kuhn met the American artists Alfred Maurer , Jo Davidson and Walter Pach , who together tried to acquire some examples of French art for the planned exhibition.
At the end of October 1912, after Kuhn had telegraphed to Davies for help, Davies traveled to Paris to go to London together . There they visited the Second Post-Impressionist Exhibition held in the Grafton Galleries , an exhibition organized by Roger Fry . A little disappointed with the exhibits on display, they mainly chose pictures by Henri Matisse and arranged for them to be shipped to the USA. On November 21, Davies and Kuhn started their journey home and after their return informed the press that the focus of their “exhibition in February of the following year [...] would be an extensive collection of radical European art”, “of which the the American public have only vaguely heard of. "
On December 14, 1912, Kuhn wrote a letter to his wife Vera, in which he describes the idea for the appearance of the exhibition: “We have adopted an emblem. The pine tree from the old revolutionary flag. I got the idea one morning in bed. Davies made the drawing and we'll have it on the stationery, catalogs, posters, and everywhere. We will also use buttons - here is the draft […] we will have about a thousand of them and distribute them to everyone, from bums to preachers - art students. ”So, based on the design by Kuhn, in the run-up to the exhibition, under among other things, 50,000 programs and postcards, on which the pine tree and the most important exhibits were depicted, were printed for sale.
A total of around 1,250 works, including large-format sculptures, by 300 artists of the European avant-garde - 399 paintings and 21 sculptures alone came from Europe - as well as American contemporary art , which attracted around 300,000 visitors in the three cities.
The exhibition space, a huge empty hall, was first transformed into a labyrinth of several rooms, the partition walls were covered with sackcloth and decorated with leaves and the rooms were brightly lit. The hall was crowned with a dome made of fabric panels. On the evening of February 17th, "the regimental band [...] blared their repertoire of songs, the elegantly dressed crowd was buzzing with excitement, John Quinn gave a short speech [...]" , after which the exhibition was officially opened.
The room was divided into eighteen rooms entitled “Gallery A” through “Gallery R”. Gallery A showed American Sculpture and Decorative Art ; Gallery B American Paintings and Sculpture ; Gallery C through F American Paintings ; Gallery G English, Irish and German Paintings and Drawings ; Gallery H to I French Painting and Sculpture ; Gallery J French Paintings, Water Colors and Drawings ; Gallery K French and American Water Colors, Drawings, etc .; Gallery L American Water Colors, Drawings, etc .; Gallery M American Paintings ; Gallery N American Paintings and Sculpture ; Gallery O French Paintings; Gallery P French, English, Dutch and American Paintings; Gallery Q French Paintings and Gallery R French, English and Swiss Paintings .
The presentation of European painting and sculpture was conceived in its historical section by Arthur B. Davies and should show the visitor the development of modern art using examples of French painting by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres , Eugène Delacroix , Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot , Honoré Daumier , Gustave Courbet , the Symbolists , Impressionists and Post-Impressionists up to the art of the 20th century, whereby the organizers of the exhibition saw the academic painting of the French schools as central. The exhibition attracted around 75,000 visitors, while the American press reported 12,000 visitors for the last day, March 15th alone.
As the only artist of the European avant-garde, Francis Picabia , who was represented in the exhibition, was there with his wife Gabrielle and told his artist friends, for example the Duchamp brothers, about the great event. Two days after the Armory Show in New York closed, he had his first solo exhibition at Alfred Stieglitz ' Gallery 291 .
The show in Chicago, which was shown from March 24 to April 16 at the Art Institute of Chicago , 111 South Michigan Ave, comprised only 634 works, consisting of 312 oil paintings, 57 watercolors, 120 prints, 115 drawings and 30 due to lack of space Sculptures, although much of American art was no longer shown. The show was mainly carried out by the Chicago lawyer Arthur T. Aldis, an admirer of modernism , who had a say in the choice of the exhibits.
The Chicago population, incited by the advertising propaganda that learned about the exhibition in New York, initially took a defensive position, but "Hints about the immorality of some of the exhibits, as well as the free entry on a few days led to visitor records." During the exhibition, the faculty had of the Art Institute tried to make the exhibition look ridiculous - one of Constantin Brâncuși's files allegedly had "six toes" seen, which heightened the ridicule. For example, students of the Law and Order Association burned portrait dolls by artists such as Matisse and Brâncuşi, Pach, but also by Walt Kuhn, who taught modern art in Chicago, because the artistic avant-garde represented a danger in their eyes. In total, the exhibition had 188,560 visitors during the 23 days, which made an average daily visit of almost 8,200.
In Boston the exhibition, reduced to 250 foreign exhibits, was shown from April 28 to May 19 in the premises of the Copley Society of Art , 158 Newbury Street, but could, despite Kuhn's later opinion, be “the best of the three Exhibitions “did not inspire the population and was not a success either financially or in terms of advertising. Other cities were eager to take over the exhibition, but the organizer, the Association of American Painters and Sculptors , decided to end the Armory Show .
The French section was represented by artists such as Henri Matisse , Albert Marquet , Georges Rouault , André Derain , Maurice de Vlaminck and Raoul Dufy at the Fauves . Among the Cubists , Pablo Picasso , Georges Braque were shown with three paintings, including a violin (MOZART / KUBELICK) from 1912, Francis Picabia , Fernand Léger , Albert Gleizes , Raymond Duchamp-Villon , Jacques Villon and Marcel Duchamp . In addition, the exhibitors showed works by Robert Delaunay and lesser-known artists such as Georges Dufrénoy with Vals et vallons and Sienne , André Dunoyer de Segonzac , Othon Friesz , Roger de La Fresnaye , Jacqueline Marval and Marie Laurencin , as well as Vincent van Gogh , Paul Gauguin , Édouard Manet , Paul Signac , Georges Seurat , also Claude Monet , Auguste Rodin , Odilon Redon , Edvard Munch , Kasimir Malewitsch , Manolo Martínez Hugué , Hanns Bolz and Wassily Kandinsky with improvisation no.27 from 1912 and Paul Cézanne with the pictures Mont Sainte- Victoire und Une vieille femme avec un rosaire ( Old Woman with a Rosary ), now owned by the National Gallery in London.
Were shown by Pablo Picasso eight works, including two still life drawing female nude from 1910, women with mustard pot from 1910 and the bronze woman's head from 1909, on loan from Alfred Stieglitz; four paintings by Henri Matisse, including Blue Nude (Memory of Biskra) from 1907, on loan from Leo Stein ; by Braque Mozart Kubelick from 1912; Gleize's Man on the Balcony from 1912; and four sculptures, including Calm from 1912 and Family Life from the same year by Alexander Archipenko . Constantin Brâncuși showed The Kiss from 1907, Girl's Torso from 1909, The Slumbering Muse from 1910, A Muse from 1912 and with Mademoiselle Pogany a marble sculpture that he completed in 1912 and whose model the artist used was the Hungarian painter Margit Pogany, who was studying in Paris . In 1914 the sculpture was exhibited in Galerie 291 and acquired from the artist through John Quinn, through the mediation of Alfred Stieglitz.
Among the American artists were Walter Pach with five etchings and five oil paintings, including Portrait of Gigi Cavigli (1912), Robert Henri , John French Sloan with Night Windows (1910) and Sunday, Women Drying their Hair (1912), George Benjamin Luks with The Spielers (1905), Arthur B. Davies with the Jewel-Bearing Tree of Amity (1912), William Glackens , Everett Shinn, Ernest Lawson, and Maurice Prendergast , known as The Eight ; also Max Weber , Charles Sheeler , Jo Davidson , Alfred Maurer with four paintings, Edward Hopper with Sailing (1911), Julian Alden Weir with The Red Bridge (1895), John Marin with Brooklyn Bridge (approx. 1912), George Bellows , Stuart Davis , Mary Cassatt , Katherine Sophie Dreier and Albert Pinkham Ryder represented with ten works.
As a German sculptor, Wilhelm Lehmbruck was shown with two sculptures, including the stone cast Die Kniende , made in Paris in 1911 , and "some drawings [...] that Kuhn had received directly from the artist" and whose work critics at the time described with a unique and penetrating force . The poet Theodor Däubler described Die Kniende in 1916 as the “Foreword to Expressionism in Sculpture.” Today, the cast from the Armory Show is in the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and another in the State Art Collections in Dresden . Ernst Ludwig Kirchner was represented with the oil painting Die Straße from 1908 and the drawing The stairs in the Wirtsgarten in Steglitz from 1911. Six woodcuts by Olga Oppenheimer were shown.
Criticism in public, politics and art
The image of Nude, Descending a Staircase No. 2 , now in the Philadelphia Museum of Art , by Marcel Duchamp , which caused a public scandal , was described by New Yorkers as an "explosion in a brick factory" and made him a well-known personality in America. They “set a price for whoever could find the nude, wrote mocking poems, drew picture jokes, people came to look and giggle, and someone claimed […] it was a male nude.” The picture “didn't snub only the bourgeois audience, but also the Cubists and Futurists, who were considered the most progressive at the time. […] Not only the official art world, but also the avant-garde were not at all prepared for such a work, which overshadowed everything before, because it threw all the rules and laws of art over the heap. "Former President Theodore Roosevelt , who visited the exhibition on March 4, 1913, tried to interpret Duchamp's picture by comparing it with his Navajo carpet in his bathroom, which he said was more like the carpet.
However, it was not only Duchamp who suffered criticism, but above all Henri Matisse, exhibited with works from his youth, who was represented most comprehensively of all contemporary artists in the exhibition and whose painting style was characterized by "distortions of form and the arbitrary use of color" what remained incomprehensible to the audience. Cubism as such, its style and its works, could, since it was barely decipherable by the public, simply be ignored or rationally discussed and rejected. Because the art of Fauvism with its emotional vehemence was completely alien to the American audience, it was above all Matisse who hit American critics with “caustic attacks”. "They were evil, devious and downright psychotic in their cruelty." In addition, Matisse was considered an outstanding painter and draftsman in Europe, and so it was not surprising that "his work was an inexplicable and arbitrary impudence to American eyes."
When Man Ray , the Armory Show , visited the exhibition left a lasting impression. The size of the European paintings alone overwhelmed him. Later he said: “I didn't do anything for six months - it took me that long to digest what I had seen.” In contrast to the, in his eyes “two-dimensional” art of his country of birth, “[...] he has an aversion to it compared to paintings that left no room for your own reflection. "
Review and aftermath
In retrospect, the Armory Show, with its dramatic presentation for the time, is considered to be one of the most important and revolutionary exhibitions of European art that the USA experienced for the public and the art world. However, Alfred Stieglitz had already exhibited some drawings by Auguste Rodin on a smaller scale with the Photo Secession in his gallery 291 on Fifth Avenue in New York in 1908 , and in the following year he showed drawings by Henri Matisse, as well as works by Édouard Manet, Auguste Renoir , Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Pablo Picasso, as well as in the next five years works by Alfred Maurer, John Marin, Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, Henri Rousseau , Max Weber , Paul Cézanne, Marsden Hartley , Arthur Garfield Dove and Abraham Walkowitz; with that he had carried the “rumors of strange and revolutionary developments in European art” to the USA.
In 1913, the exhibition had shaken the complacency of the American art world, shocking the new art that the public saw. The artists were insulted as “swindlers”, “crazy” and “degenerate”. The critics of the time raged because they feared for their artistic standards. All the insults, all the amusements, also from the press, contributed to even greater advertising propaganda, which in turn attracted even more visitors, confirmed the sense of the show and ultimately led to commercialization .
The National Academy of Design saw a sharp drop in membership of younger artists who were no longer interested in exhibiting there after the Armory Show . The Association of American Painters and Sculptors never organized a second exhibition again, its members fell out and left the association, which finally dissolved in 1916. In December of the same year, the Society of Independent Artists , an association founded by Marcel Duchamp and ten other artists, was founded as the successor to the Association of American Painters and Sculptors . In April 1917 it had its first and largest exhibition, called the Big Show , in which around 2,500 works by a total of around 1,200 artists were shown in the Grand Central Palace in New York, including works by Constantin Brâncuși and Pablo Picasso. Until 1944 she held annual exhibitions.
Art historical effect
After the Armory Show , the post-impressionist realism, which Alfred Stieglitz in particular as the pioneer of the New York gallery owners and Robert Henri as the key figure in the exhibition had already cultivated and proclaimed, was initially overshadowed by the dominant European modernism. Stieglitz had already gradually turned away from European painting to emancipate regional artists "internally" in his strictly conceived exhibitions in Galerie 291 , working with progressive painters such as Arthur Dove, Marsden Hartley, Georgia O'Keeffe , John Marin, Alfred Maurer or Max Weber (the "Stieglitz Circle") cultivated a select group of local artists who were to contribute to the creation of an independent American art.
Coming from photography, Stieglitz felt the prevailing pictorialism (originating in Europe) as a photographic counterpart to symbolism and late impressionism as obsolete and transferred this perspective to art in general. In the run-up to the Armory Show , he had urged readers to view this exhibition in a militant editorial in the New York Sunday newspaper American under the title “The first joint operation to revive art” and responded with the first exhibition of his own photographs in the rooms his gallery 291 for 14 years. He wanted to demonstrate what makes photography so distinctive compared to painting, just as the Armory Show showed what makes painting unique compared to photography.
In a very short time, the Armory Show caused a wave of new galleries to be founded with post-impressionist exhibitions that provided incoherent ideas with equally arbitrary painting styles. Thus, set pieces taken over from the European modernists were found which, under all sorts of neologisms , such as the short-lived "Faddists" (approx. 1913/14), defied any art-historical classification (and sustainability). Only Dadaism prospered from this disjointedness, as it pointedly reflected the missing message of the artists and exercised an early institutional criticism in Duchamp and Picabia's anti-art . Nevertheless, with a few exceptions, such as Man Ray, the radicalism of the Dadaists was not adopted by the Americans.
The strongest aftereffects, however, were shown by the dissecting imagery of synthetic cubism (here mainly Duchamp's staircase act), which was at its peak at the time of the show and for several years from painters such as Oscar Bluemner , Arthur Dove, Charles Demuth , Konrad Cramer , Man Ray, Joseph Stella or Stanton Macdonald-Wright was practiced. In essence, however, Americans struggled with the lyrical, moral, romantic, and social aspects inherent in the "modernized art" they saw in the Armory. The audience simply didn't want to understand this new art. In this respect, Kuhn's basic idea of conjuring up an artistic revolution had in part failed.
The Armory Show was followed by fierce debates about who was making the “right” art: the Europeans or the Americans, the modernists or the academic painters. From 1913 to 1918 there was a downright hysterical phase of self-discovery in the American art world, which initially gave rise to Cubo-realistic precisionism , which thematized industrialization and urbanization. A significant painter was Charles Sheeler , who distinguished himself as an early photorealist by painting his monumental machine pictures and factory scenarios from photographs.
With paintings like Snow in New York from 1902, Robert Henri had found his own realistic imagery in painting long before the Armory Show , which can also be found in photographs by Alfred Stieglitz. Henri and the protagonists of the later Ashcan School (from around 1934), some of whom worked as commercial illustrators for newspapers, produced socially critical paintings that were clearly based on the awakening press photography . George Bellows' paintings of boxers or polo players, for example, reflect this “picturesque reporting” on site. However, this independent socio-critical realism was initially sidelined by the Armory Show and only received real attention a decade later; painters like John Sloan or Edward Hopper achieved their breakthrough in the 1920s and 1930s at the earliest. This emancipation from European modernism was finally accomplished with the American scene and was to consolidate in isolated regionalist tendencies at the latest in the years of the Depression .
Effect on participating artists
The artists participating in the exhibition responded to the sometimes violent reactions of the audience in different ways. The painter and architect Oscar Bluemner remarked: “The exhibition of new art from Europe hit like a bomb, before people could even catch their breath, all of a sudden some plum-stuffed authorities of the old regime hurled all their filth at them out of anger and contempt Cubists ”, alluding to the conservative members of the institutionalized National Academy of Design .
Painter John Sloan, a student of Robert Henri, said the exhibition had undoubtedly had a profound influence on his work, and Stuart Davis, one of the youngest participants in the exhibition and also a student of Henri, vowed “to become a modern artist become."
Ian Dejardin, the director of London's Dulwich Picture Gallery , showed the modern exhibition Coming of Age: American Art, 1850s to 1950s in spring 2008 and referred to the liberating influence [from the Europeans]: “[…] in our exhibition you can see how very artists like Arthur Dove have been influenced by Matisse - yet his work looks fresh and different. "
The Armory Show is not only exerted a great influence on the American artists who joined the new currents in art, also the sales figures testified to the impending changes in the art market, not only in America but worldwide. 250 works from a total of 200 European and 50 American works were sold, a market value of $ 45,000. The modern art market grew rapidly. The lawyer Arthur Jerome Eddy bought a sculpture by Constantin Brâncuși and built up a collection of modern art afterwards. Other collectors such as Albert C. Barnes and Stephen C. Clark bought some works from the exhibition. Alfred Stieglitz bought Kandinsky's Improvisation No. 27 for $ 500, and Duchamp's act descending a flight of stairs was bought unseen for $ 324 from Frederic C. Torrey, a San Francisco art dealer . The Metropolitan Museum of Art made the first purchase of a Cézanne by an American museum, purchasing the painting La Colline des Pauvres for $ 6,700, the highest price of a single work at the time. Many new galleries opened, such as the Daniel Gallery in December 1913 , and Stephen Bourgeois opened a gallery of old and new masters the following year. More soon followed, such as the Carrol Gallery, supported by John Quinn, and the Modern Gallery , directed by Marius de Zayas . In the National Arts Club and many private galleries in New York, the modern American artists were shown.
In addition, the Armory Show caused an increase in the number of visitors to the legendary art salon of the American writer Gertrude Stein in Paris, which she ran together with her friend Alice B. Toklas after the departure of her brother Leo Stein . In her rooms she had exhibited the modern art of Cézanne and Picasso. Stein had come to New York on the advice of her friend Mabel Dodge to see the exhibition. The two artists Marsden Hartley and Alfred Maurer, whom she already knew from Paris, were under her patronage. Stein's Portrait of Mabel Dodge at the Villa Curonia , written in 1912, was distributed during the exhibition and was the only literary contribution.
A literary preparation of the Armory Show can be found in the novel Peter Whiffle: His Life and Works by Carl van Vechten , published in 1922 , and in the autobiographical work Movers and Shakers , published by Mabel Dodge Luhan in 1936.
Retrospectives, The Armory Show
For the fiftieth anniversary of the Armory Show in 1963, the Munson-Williams-Procter Institute in Utica from March 17 to 31 and April 6 to 28 in the 1913 showroom at the Zeughaus Lexington Avenue / 25th Street, New York, a retrospective of the show took place, to which Marcel Duchamp spoke in a speech about the artists of the time. Duchamp stated:
“In Europe, the same period, 1910–1914, was called the heroic epoch of modern art and it had its cramps in the exhibitions of the Independents and the Salon d'Automne in 1911 and 1912. But the reaction of the European public was only one mild scream of indignation compared to the negative explosion on the Armory Show. The 1963 audience certainly won't be shocked anymore. All of these paintings and sculptures have been seen and reproduced so many times over the past 50 years, and especially after being part of the 1913 controversy, most of them have cemented their worth [...] in other words, these days the public is judging a more understanding and critical level and full of concentration [...] surely in the final judgment a feeling of awe with nostalgic undertones will triumph over our present aesthetic standards. "
In January 2002 the Museum of Contemporary Art in Belgrade , based on a production by the Scuc Gallery in Ljubljana in the 1980s, showed a reconstruction of the Armory Show with the help of copies of the works of art from the 1913 exhibition , after having already been in the gallery area In 1986 and 1987 amazing fictions caused a sensation. In 1986, a postcard with Duchamp's nude appeared descending a flight of stairs , announcing the beginning of the century and the announcement that the International Exhibition of Modern Art would be shown from November 11 to December 9, 1993 in the armory of the 69th New York Regiment . In 1987, in New York's Artists Space , a video tape appeared that documented a greatly delayed and improved Armory Show . The volume showed the exhibition and works by the early icons of modernism, such as Picasso, Matisse, Duchamp's urinal and younger artists such as René Magritte's Ceci n'est pas une pipe , a flag painting by Jasper Johns , striped paintings by Frank Stella and Picasso by Roy Lichtenstein . Furthermore, one wall showed a number of Malevichs, another was hung with works by Piet Mondrian . The works were given fictitious dates. A Duchamp was dated to 2019 and a work by Joseph Kosuth was created in 1905.
A late "judicial rehabilitation"
The exhibition Sensation by Young British Artists , which was shown at the Brooklyn Museum of Art in New York from September 1998 to February 1999 , turned into a scandal in 1999 when the then New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani cracked down on the artists, and above all that Painting Holy Virgin Mary (1996) by Chris Ofili attacked even though he had not seen the work at all. Ofili's provocative work showed a portrait of the Virgin with elephant excrement, and Giuliani saw it as an "inexcusable attack on religion". He threatened a cut in the museum budget and the board of directors with dismissal. The dispute ended in a successful lawsuit by the museum board against Giuliani. The court ruling drew a comparison with the 1913 Armory Show :
“Much of the art that is valued today was received with disgust and horror in its own time. The Brooklyn Museum itself has documented this historical process, through art that will shock and insult as long as it is new and will eventually be accepted and valued, [...] this includes paintings by Matisse, Braque and Picasso that children have been banned from doing them when they came to New York to be featured on the Armory Show. The New York Times concluded in 1913: 'The Armory Show is pathological.' "
New York art fair
Founded in 1994 by four New York galleries, the art fair Gramercy International Art Fair has been called The Armory Show - The International Fair of New Art since it moved to the Armory in 1999, based on the 1913 exhibition . It is now taking place in the warehouses at Pier 92 and 94 on the Hudson River . The new Armory Show is an annual commercial contemporary art fair and is now the largest art fair in the United States.
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Notes and individual references
Unless otherwise noted, the main article is based on the publication by Bernd Klüser and Katharina Hegewisch (eds.): The Art of Exhibition. A documentation of thirty exemplary art exhibitions of this century. Insel Verlag, Frankfurt a. M. / Leipzig 1991.
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