New York art exhibit celebrates centennial of iconic 1913 show

Wed Oct 9, 2013 7:28pm EDT
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By Patricia Reaney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A century after the controversial 1913 Armory Show in New York challenged America's perception of art, a new exhibition is celebrating the event with works from the original including masterpieces by Henri Matisse, Marcel Duchamp and Francis Picabia.

"The Armory Show at 100: Modern Art and Revolution" opens at the New-York Historical Society Museum & Library on Friday and runs through February 23 next year. The exhibit recreates, on a smaller scale, the experience of the 1913 show that shocked New Yorkers and introduced them to the European avant garde.

"We couldn't let the 100-year anniversary go by without doing something. The Armory Show was probably the most important art exhibition in America," Marilyn Satin Kushner, the co-curator of the exhibition, said in an interview.

"This is a landmark time in terms of the history and in terms of the history of art in America."

The exhibition includes 100 works from the original show by artists such as Duchamp, whose masterpiece "Nude Descending a Staircase" was mocked and compared at the time to an explosion in a shingle factory, and Matisse's "Blue Nude," considered depraved for its distortion of the female form.

Francis Picabia's "Dances at the Spring" was likened to a patchwork quilt.

Using artifacts, historical documents and archival photographs and films, the exhibition puts the works in the context of 1913 New York.

"It will introduce people to what was going on in New York in 1913 because one can't understand the Armory Show completely unless one understands that New York at that time period was the age of discovery, the age of freedom, the age of independence, the age of youth marching in the streets for women's rights," said Kushner.   Continued...