Most 21st century Americans weren’t around for the Armory Show that opened nearly 100 years ago in New York, before traveling to Chicago and Boston. But insights into the 1913 event are now available to all art enthusiasts since the Smithsonian's Archives of American Art has launched 1913 Armory Show: The Story in Primary Sources at www.armoryshow.si.edu, a website celebrating the centennial of the International Exhibition of Modern Art.
The Archives holds the largest accumulation of primary sources, ranging from the official records of the Association of American Painters and Sculptors, the group that organized the show, to the personal papers of artists who participated in the exhibition.
Featuring an interactive timeline of more than 150 letters, postcards, photographs and rare printed materials dating from December 1911 to May 1914, the new website provides the inside story of this landmark exhibition from the personal perspective of the key organizers, and it provides the firsthand-and often irreverent-accounts of visitors to the show.
Letters from organizers Arthur B. Davies, Walt Kuhn and Walter Pach describing how they scrambled to borrow roughly 1,250 works of art are presented along with postcards from celebrity artists seeking payment and notes from everyday people looking for lost umbrellas. There are also rare publications, photographs and a sampling of the press coverage by critics and others trying to come to grips with the new, foreign art.
In conjunction with the new website and centennial celebration, the Archives of American Art Journal will publish a special "Armory at 100" issue devoted to the 1913 Armory Show, including several important new finds by scholar Laurette E. McCarthy.
A major exhibition of Armory Show documents from the Archives of American Art, "The Story of the Armory Show: Some Notes as to Why and How It Happened, from the Archives of American Art," curated by the Archives' Mary Savig, will be on view at the Montclair Art Museum in Montclair, N.J., from Feb. 17 through June 16, in conjunction with the museum's "The New Spirit: American Art in the Armory Show."
For more information, visit the Archives website at www.aaa.si.edu.