On the 103rd anniversary from the Arsenal Present, a new book reassesses the development of Modernism in the USA The starting gun for Modernism was fired 103 years ago today, once the 1913 International Exhibition of contemporary Art, opened on 17 February at the 69th Program Armory in New York.
Recognized today because the Arsenal Show, it is widely acknowledged as where US gallery-goers first viewed such Western Modernist improvements as Cubism, Symbolism and Fauvism.
William C Agee, writer of our bold new art-history title, Modern Art in the united states 1908-68 will abide by his fellow students that the show was an important exhibition, both for US but for the art world as a whole.
“The famous Armory Show”, Agee writes, “deservedly maintains one place in American art, for this introduced modern art to some broad audience there for the first time and showed it is true achievements with a interesting depth and quality never witnessed before, either there or in Europe for that matter.”
Yet, while Agee concedes that actually works for example Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Stairs and Henri Matisse’s Red Studio were built with a profound impact on both informal visitors and earlier 20th century American artists, he refutes the claim that the Armory’s importance stemmed from your way it introduced a rather parochial American community for the advanced new designs associated with European art.
“Established and emerging Americans of real importance were exhibited,” Agree writes. “The high quality and uniqueness of the paintings startle us, all the more so for being such complete surprises. Yet in the clamor within the novelty and the sheer number of Western avant-garde painters, their prescience continues to be typically overlooked.”
There’s additionally Kathleen McEnery Cunningham’s Going to the Bathtub, an earlier Last century oil painting that, while classical in some senses, attracts around the modern motif of moving figures. Initially it would appear that the image describes two individuals but, since the viewer looks on, “it becomes clear the figures are identical person, caught in a turning, sequential motion that’s a direct representation of the recent reports of human and animal locomotion transported out by Edward Muybridge and Etienne-Jules Mare, that captured the close attention of several designers, most famously Duchamp.”
Agee detects the actual same qualities in Arthur B Davies’ 1912 painting, Sea Drift that is apparently “apparentlya bucolic scene of graceful nudes inside a sylvan setting, until we recognize that it too is based on studies of sequential movement, a Symbolist parody of Nude Climbing down from a Staircase.”