October 11, 2013 – February 23, 2014
“We will show New York something they never dreamed of.”
Walt Kuhn, artist and Armory Show organizer, October 28, 1912
The Armory Show took place from February 17 to March 15, 1913 at the 69th Regiment Armory on Lexington Avenue and 25th Street, and in just less than a month it changed the way Americans thought about modern art. It has been called the most important exhibition ever held in the United States.
The Armory Show was a stunning exhibition of nearly 1,400 objects that included both American and European works, but it is best known for introducing the American public to the new in art: European avant-garde paintings and sculpture. One hundred years later it is hard to imagine what it would have been like to see works by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Marcel Duchamp, Paul Gauguin, Paul Cézanne, and Vincent Van Gogh, all together for the very first time. The exhibition created a huge sensation in New York. It traveled to Chicago and Boston, and was even more controversial in Chicago, where students burned paintings by Matisse in effigy. The exhibition’s travel turned it into a national event, and the polemical responses to the show have come to represent a turning point in the history of American art.
It was an era of change and New York was the capital of the new, drawing the latest movements in politics, social reform, progressive thought, developments in communication, and modern architecture. Woodrow Wilson was inaugurated after a bruising four-way presidential election against Eugene Debs, Theodore Roosevelt, and William Howard Taft. The Woolworth Building opened in 1913 as the tallest skyscraper in the world. The new Grand Central Terminal, an important symbol of transcontinental travel, was completed in 1913. Women marched in the streets for suffrage and workers went on strike for safer labor conditions and equitable wages. Greenwich Village became identified with the new “Bohemians” and was a fertile breeding ground for radical ideas.
The Armory Show at 100 in 2013
On October 11, 2013, the New-York Historical Society will celebrate the centennial of this landmark event with The Armory Show at 100, an exhibition of more than ninety masterworks from the 1913 exhibition, including the European avant-garde, icons of American art, and earlier works that were meant to show the progression of modern art. The Armory Show came at a time of great upheaval, and the exhibition will revive the sights and sounds of 1913 New York .
The Armory Show at 100 website
This website takes you behind the scenes of the 1913 show and the hundredth anniversary celebration.
- Explore some of the masterworks in the 1913 exhibition, find out what critics thought of them, and comment on your favorites
- Step back into New York in 1913
- Read artists’ letters that delve into the intrigue surrounding preparations for this groundbreaking show
- Hear from the curators of the 2013 exhibition and other experts, and let us know what you think
- Find out how other institutions are celebrating this milestone
- Keep checking back for new posts, new videos, and new ideas about this revolutionary exhibition
- Follow us on Facebook and Twitter
The New-York Historical Society recognizes lead sponsors Harold J. and Ruth Newman for their exceptional commitment to The Armory Show at 100.
Generous support has also been provided by Roger and Susan Hertog, the Terra Foundation for American Art, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Lily Auchincloss Foundation, Inc., The Paul E. Singer Foundation, and Sherry Brous and Douglas Oliver. Support for the development of The Armory Show at 100 website was provided, in part, by the National Endowment for the Humanities.
This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council. Exhibitions at the New-York Historical Society are made possible, in part, by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.