“That’s Not Art!”

On this day in 1913 an art exhibition opened in New York City that shocked the country.  Staged by the Association of American Painters and Sculptors The Armoury Show was the first large exhibition of modern art in the US and marked the dawn of Modernism in the US.  Opening in a makeshift gallery in the 69th Regiment Armory on Lexington Avenue  the exhibition toured three cities, starting in New York then moving on to Chicago and then Boston.

Displaying around 1,300 paintings and sculptures by over 300 European and American artists. The show marked a turning point in modern art introducing people accustomed to more traditional realistic art, to the experimental styles of the European “avant garde”. Critics were outraged describing the event as insane, an affront to sensibilities, immoral and anarchistic, even President Roosevelt passed comment, declaring “That’s not art!, but the media attention drew crowds, and collectors took notice.  The 1913 Armory Show attracted 87,000 visitors in New York City before it travelled to Chicago.

Amongst the scandalously radical works of art, Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase took pride of place alongside works by Braque, Paul Cezanne, Gustave Courbet, Raoul Duffy, Andre Derain, Paul Gauguin, Albert Gleizes, Vincent van Gogh, Edward Hopper, Wassily Kandinsky, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Picasso, Toulouse-Lautrec, Manet, Monet, Matisse and Munch



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