U.S. Intellectual History Blog

The Armory Show at 100

15.1-Picabia_Dances-PMA-1950-134-155-CX3On October 11, 2013, the New York Historical Society will celebrate the centennial of the original Armory Show with an exhibition of more than ninety masterworks from the 1913 exhibition, including the European avant-garde, icons of American art, and earlier works that were meant to show the progression of modern art. The Armory Show came at a time of great upheaval, and the exhibition will revive the sights and sounds of 1913 New York.  The show runs until February 23, 2014 and showcases many works of art from American artists.  A friend and member of S-USIH, Casey Nelson Blake, (Professor of History and Founding Director of the Center for American Studies, Columbia University), is the Senior Historian for the event.

The Armory Show was a stunning exhibition of nearly 1,400 objects that included both American and European works, but it is best known for introducing the American public to the new in art: European avant-garde paintings and sculpture. One hundred years later it is hard to imagine what it would have been like to see works by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Marcel Duchamp, Paul Gauguin, Paul Cézanne, and Vincent Van Gogh, all together for the very first time. The exhibition created a huge sensation in New York. It traveled to Chicago and Boston, and was even more controversial in Chicago, where students burned paintings by Matisse in effigy. The exhibition’s travel turned it into a national event, and the polemical responses to the show have come to represent a turning point in the history of American art.