Skip to main content
Select Source:

Armory Show

ARMORY SHOW

ARMORY SHOW. At the beginning of the twentieth century, a group of artists formed a loosely affiliated school of thought that centered on creating works of art that presented a realistic portrayal of everyday life. Often called "The Eight," or the Ashcan School, the group (George Luks, William Glackens, John Sloan, Everett Shinn, Arthur B. Davies, Maurice Prendergast, Ernest Lawson, and George Bellows) painted with a journalistic approach, portraying the grit and seedy elements of society. Critics and academics were outraged by the Ashcan School and declared the work vulgar.

Despite the negative critical response, the Ashcan artists gained a following. They held their first public exhibition in 1908, followed by a second show two years

[Image not available for copyright reasons]

later. The second exhibition caused such a sensation that riot police had to subdue the crowd. The notoriety only increased the group's popularity.

The Ashcan School reached its apex in February 1913 when, in conjunction with the Association of American Painters and Sculptors, it staged the Armory Show, by some accounts the most important exhibit ever held in the United States. More than 300 artists were represented with a collection of 1,600 paintings, sculpture, and decorative works. The Armory Show shocked the public by showcasing the outrageous styles adopted by The Eight and vanguard European artists—styles such as Symbolism, Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Cubism, and Futurism. European participants included Pablo Picasso, Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Cezanne, and Henri Matisse, among others—many whose work was being seen for the first time in the United States. The groundbreaking show launched the term "modern art" and changed the course of American art.

Located in New York City, the Armory provided an enormous space to hold an art exhibition. Since it had no internal walls, organizers used screens covered in fireproof burlap to divide the giant space into eighteen octagonal rooms, each decorated with pine branches and live potted trees.

One of the most sensational pieces at the exhibit was Marcel Duchamp's Nude Descending a Staircase. Critics viewed it as the single representation of all that was wrong with avant-garde European art, particularly Cubism, Impressionism, and Futurism. Critics also denounced other French artists, particularly Matisse, for painting in a manner that seemed to defy common sense. Later, when the show traveled to Chicago, art students burned Matisse in effigy. Despite the critical turmoil, more than 500,000 people viewed the Armory Show in New York, Chicago, and Boston.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Braider, Donald. George Bellows and the Ashcan School of Painting. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1971.

Hughes, Robert. American Visions: The Epic History of Art in America. New York: Knopf, 1997.

Mendelowitz, Daniel M. A History of American Art. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1970.

Perlman, Bennard B. Painters of the Ashcan School: The Immortal Eight. New York: Dover, 1988.

Shi, David E. Facing Facts: Realism in American Thought and Culture, 1850–1920. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995.

BobBatchelor

See alsoArt .

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Armory Show." Dictionary of American History. . Encyclopedia.com. 25 Jun. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Armory Show." Dictionary of American History. . Encyclopedia.com. (June 25, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/armory-show

"Armory Show." Dictionary of American History. . Retrieved June 25, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/armory-show

Armory Show

Armory Show, international exhibition of modern art held in 1913 at the 69th-regiment armory in New York City. It was a sensational introduction of modern art into the United States. The estimated 1,600 works included paintings representing avant-garde movements in Europe. Duchamp's Nude Descending a Staircase was singled out by the hostile critics as emblematic of the so-called insanity and degeneracy of the new art. One of the most important exhibitions of art ever held in the United States, the Armory Show aroused the curiosity of the public and helped to change the direction of American painting.

See M. Brown, The Story of the Armory Show (1963, repr. 1988); M. Satin Kushner and K. Orcutt, ed., The Armory Show at 100 (2013).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Armory Show." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 25 Jun. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Armory Show." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (June 25, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/armory-show

"Armory Show." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved June 25, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/armory-show

Armory Show

Armory Show (1913) Landmark exhibition of contemporary American and European art held in New York, USA. The European section of the exhibition caused the greatest excitement. It looked back to impressionism, tracing the history of modernism through neo-impressionism and post-impressionism with examples of work by Gauguin, Van Gogh, and the Nabis, but came right up to date with examples of cubism, orphism, and Dada. The exhibition travelled successfully to Chicago and Boston, attracting c.500,000 visitors. It put avant-garde European art on the American map and revolutionized the nation's attitudes.

http://virginia.edu/~MUSEUM/Armory/armoryshow.html

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Armory Show." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 25 Jun. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Armory Show." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (June 25, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/armory-show

"Armory Show." World Encyclopedia. . Retrieved June 25, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/armory-show