Abstract

In this article I argue that the 2013 Armory show retrospective hosted by the New York Historical Society missed an opportunity to put the original 1913 show in an adequate historical context. The show did not as fully integrate its rich historical material as it might have, and thus failed to give today’s visitors a fuller sense of the kind of environment artists and writers, such as William Carlos Williams, were then working in. It also did not allow contemporary spectators to uncover surprising connections between the great variety of artists who exhibited in 1913 but who were not referenced in the retrospective. Had the original contents been more comprehensively featured it would have provided an opportunity to offer a sense of the art historical context in which these works would have made sense—or would have entirely baffled their early twentieth-century American audience. In this way the show might also have been a boon to scholars of modernism of all stripes, enabling them to rejuvenate older critical conversations with fresh eyes. I argue that the real gem of the show was not in the show at all. Instead, it was the expansive, richly illustrated, and knowledgably written book collection, Armory Show at 100: Modernism and Revolution, edited by Marilyn Satin Kushner and Kimberly Orcutt and released along with the show, which presents an in-depth reexamination of the 1913 event, including an account of its key players.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1935-0244
Print ISSN
0196-6286
Pages
pp. 12-16
Launched on MUSE
2016-12-22
Open Access
No
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