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 C├ęzanne, 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




1 comment:

Olivia Korringa said...

Wow! That's amazing!!!!