The Eyes

The Eyes

Friday, February 8, 2013

A Century of Modern Art at the Archives of American Art

The International Exhibition of Modern Art was the first major exhibition of European modern art in the United States. Leaders of the Association of American Painters and Sculptors (AAPS) organized the 1913 show in New York City at the 69th Regiment Armory February 17 to March 15. It then traveled to the Art Institute of Chicago March 24 to April 16 and to Copley Hall in Boston April 28 to May 19. Organizers boasted that the show would be recognized as "the greatest modern show ever given any where on earth, as far as regards high standard of merit."

As part of the centennial of the Armory Show, the Smithsonian Archives of American Art developed a digital exhibition to make their materials available to a wider audience.

The Archives holds the largest accumulation of primary source material, ranging from official records produced by AAPS to the firsthand—and often irreverent—accounts by visitors to the show. Since their discovery in the middle of the last century, these resources have enriched the understanding of the 1913 Armory Show’s indelible impact on American art. This exhibition encourages visitors to access digital reproductions of key documents about the show from the Archives' collections.

Here is just one extraordinary sample of the Archives' treasures:
Artist, critic, show organizer, and agent Walter Pach's ledger for March 4-6, 1913 allow us to glimpse the formation of venerable American art collections and institutions. Over this three day period, Pach registered sales to several prominent art patrons and collectors. For example, on March 4 and March 5, he noted, "Sold to Miss Bliss." Lillie P. Bliss bought 20 pieces of art during the Armory Show, including works by Cézanne, Denis, Gaugin, Redon, Renoir, and Vuillard. Through her acquisitions, she developed a major art collection, one that formed the core of the Museum of Modern Art. On March 5, Pach entered H.C. Frick's purchase of his painting, Flowers. Henry Clay Frick, an industrialist and art patron, later donated his mansion and art to establish the Frick Collection. And, on March 6, Pach logged Dr. A.C. Barnes's acquistion of Maurice de Vlaminck's oil painting, Les Figures. Alfred Barnes established the Barnes Foundation, an educational art institution, a decade later.

Walter Pach notebook recording sales at the New York Armory Show (Feb. 18-Mar. 15, 1913) 
From the Walter Pach papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The 1913 Armory Show at The Art Institute of Chicago

Did you know that the Art Institute of Chicago was the first art museum in the United States to exhibit the work of European modernists? 2013 marks the 100th anniversary of this landmark exhibition—known as the Armory Show. The Art Institute has a cool, new interactive space on their website dedicated to the 1913 Armory Show that allows you to walk through this historic show.

The Art Institute of Chicago enjoys the unique distinction of having been the only art museum to host the Armory Show during its tour of the United States. As such, it was also the first museum to exhibit the works of modern artists including Constantin Brâncusi, Marcel Duchamp, Henri Matisse, and Pablo Picasso. This site explores the organization, presentation, reception, and impact of the Armory Show in Chicago and celebrates the city's important place in the early history of modern art in America.


Gallery 50 Northeast