The 1913 Armory Show in New York City was the first major survey of early modernism in the U.S. The exhibit brought European modernist ideas -- cubism, Fauvism, non-representational works -- to the then-traditional American art market. It was a dynamic artistic experience and a monumentally important moment for the future of art.
Curators Andrianna Campbell and Daniel S. Palmer bring the Armory Show back to life with "Decenter NY/DC: An Exhibition on the Centenary of the 1913 Armory Show" with Abrons Art Center/Henry Street Settlement in NYC and the Luther W. Brady Art Gallery of George Washington University in DC.
"Decenter" engages with the avant-garde curatorial approach of the original Armory Show, but in an updated contemporary way. The Armory Show was about changing perspectives, alternative gallery spaces, a decentralized art theory voice, and experimentation. "Decenter" carries these concepts through the century for a contemporary audience.
In the original 1913 show several participating artists brought their lesser-known friends to also be exhibited. "Decenter" engages with this informal curatorial mentality in featuring 27 artists in total, several of whom are only presented online. The onsite and online combination speaks to the interest of alternative gallery spaces, but also encourages a blended art experience.
"Decenter" directly addresses the Armory Show at every turn -- the digital revolution of today mirrors the abstraction revolution of the early turn of the century; it's a period-sensitive survey of a diverse group of artists and mediums.
The expansive diversity of mediums is like that of an art fair, like the original Armory Show. But the distinct sense of curatorial freedom, evocative of the atmosphere of art fairs, is what really unites the two exhibits.
"Decenter" emphasizes the dramatic change in art from 1913 to today, but also shows gradual shifts through movements in abstraction, the use of the multiple, and non-representational works.
"Decenter" clearly engages with art history and is the contemporary continuation of the 1913 Armory Show. But the exhibit stands on it's own, projects it's own voice, and directly engages with the viewer about what art is today. It's a visual, cultural, art exchange between New York City and Washington, D.C.
This is an important exchange as NYC represents the peak of contemporary art in America today. As D.C. grows into a distinct, distinguished art city, continued exchanges between NYC, Chicago, and L.A. are crucial.
"Decenter" is on view through December 20, 2013 at the Luther W. Brady Art Gallery, second floor of the Media and Public Affairs Building, George Washington University.