Friday, January 11, 2013

11 January 2013 “A Day in 1913: The 1913 International Exhibition of Modern Art

When deciding on my approach to this years blog, I toyed with various ideas for intensive study of one particular year. 1913 presented itself for obvious reasons, it being 100 years from this year.

But, as many of you know as well as being a homemaker, I am now also working part time outside the home as well as beginning to return to school  Therefore an entirely immersed year was simply out of the question for me this year. And so simply sharing what interest me in little poignant vignettes seemed the best solution to allow me to continue to post daily.

This week I began to think how nice it would be to at least touch upon 1913 and so was born the idea of Friday’s being “A Day in 1913”. This way I can have a weekly post about that time and still feel I am considering it while in the year 2013. One likes to draw parallels and this seems the best time to do so.

I will post these hare on my new blog but will also link a secondary blog as a sort of home for just the 1913 posts. That way they can live happily together and by the years end I shall have roughly 48 posts addressing the year 1913. We can look at fashion, the home, domestic science, art, politics, architecture. You name it, we shall look at it. I hope this will be of interest to you.

armoryshow Today I thought we could look at the beginning of Modern Art, which in some ways really became a sort of official happening in 1913 with the International Exhibition of Modern Art held at  New York City's 69th Regiment Armory, on Lexington Avenue between 25th and 26th Streets, from February 17 until March 15.

The Armory Show was the first exhibition mounted by the Association of American Painters and Sculptors and was run by their president, Arthur B. Davies secretary Walt Kuhn  and Walter Pach  It displayed some 1,300 paintings, sculptures, and decorative works by over 300 avant-garde European and American artists. Impressionist Fauvist and Cubist works were represented.

The show shocked many and there were cries of indecency and immorality. Former President Theodore Roosevelt cried, “It’s not art!”.


The most controversial work was Cubist work “A Nude Descending a Staircase”, by Marcel Duchamp. This lead to many bad reviews and some rather funny cartoons of this new movement. Though  Duchamp went on to sell three works at the show and continued to affect many up and coming artists.

Here is a funny cartoon about a cubist man in his cubist house done by famous cartoonist John French Sloan.


manray The affects of the show upon the art world and artists can be demonstrated here in this 1914 work by Man Ray which used the classical European painting of bathers and Old Master nudes as a starting off point to describe the figure in the modern vernacular. Man Ray, as many know, would go on to use photography as his medium in his surrealist works. What is interesting in this work is though the figure and landscape are broken into very basic shapes, not only are the figures still discernable but the triangular pyramid often used as a sort of template for Old Master painters is still relevant. So, there is still an element of playing off a traditional or studied background.

ingresbather manray2 Here we see Man Ray taking a tongue and cheek approach to an old Master work, Ingres “the Bather”. Yet, in its approach we are still expected to be familiar with Arts History. Today, Modern art has become beyond Art for Art’s sake and rather more, Anything goes for any reason, usually no reason at all. The works that referenced classics and using ones intellect seems to be replaced with simply representations of ad-work or glorified commercials or graffiti. But, I digress. The point being that 1913 will most likely show the true break of the Past into the Modern in many things,  not just Art.

Now, I include this work by Stuart Davis, one of the artists at the exhibition, not because it seems shocking or specifically ‘modern’ but to give a bit of Fashion History. Here we can already see the lowered waist and even the lowered wearing of a hat in a cloche like manner, though the larger brim is still popular as well.


armourycatalog For anyone who is interested I found the catalog available online. It has very little images, but does list all the artists and is of an interest to look at, I think. If any of you wish to see and maybe study some of the unknown artists work at the time. The link can be found HERE.

I hope all have a lovely day.

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