Time—1913. Location—69th Regiment Armory, New York City Event—The Famed Armory Show
This Armory Show Exhibition accomplished the following: it shocked the nation; changed our collective perception of beauty/and what constitutes art in particular! The effects of this one exhibition—it traveled to Chicago and Boston—had a profound impact on artists, dealers, and collectors/patrons!
The Armory Show exhibition featured over 300 avant-garde American and European artists and over 1300 to their paintings, sculptures, and decorative works.
The shock manifested itself in extremist criticism, a myriad of critical, lampooning cartoons in newspapers, and word of mouth chaos/confusion. Theodore Roosevelt wrote: “It is vitally necessary to move forward to shake off the dead hand of the reactionaries; and yet we have to face the fact that there is apt to be a lunatic fringe among votaries of any forward movement!” (Theodore Roosevelt, in Outlook, 1913)
What are your thoughts on what appears to be an abrupt change which is shocking to the general public? The shock was mostly directed to Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase of 1912. Cartoons lampooning Duchamp were everywhere in New York, Chicago, and Boston as the exhibition arrived at the various venues. The attendance was huge and surprised everyone! The shadow cast by this exhibition of avant-garde American and European modernism was huge, profound, and still with us in some respects. “When the vision of the Nude flashed upon me, I knew that it would break forever the enslaving chains of Naturalism.” (Marcell Ducvhamp, 1920)