The Story of the Armory Show

Online Exhibition 2013
Celebrating the Centennial of the 1913 Armory Show

The story of the 1913 Armory Show cannot be told without the Archives of American Art. The Archives holds the largest accumulation of primary source material, ranging from official records produced by the Association of American Painters and Sculptors to the firsthand—and often irreverent—accounts by visitors to the show. Since their discovery in the middle of the last century, these resources have enriched our understanding of the Armory Show’s indelible impact on American art.

The story is far from over. New archival discoveries, some as recent as 2012, continue to propel contemporary inquiry into the nature and legacy of the Armory Show. Just as the organizers anticipated, the Armory Show will likely sustain our curiosity for the next 100 years.

Don't miss the Armory Show issue of the Archives of American Art Journal: “The Armory Show at 100”


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The Story of the Armory Show

James McNeill Whistler to Frederick H. Allen

James McNeill Whistler to Frederick H. Allen, 1892 or 1893 June 6

Creator: James McNeill Whistler

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The Story of the Armory Show

Andrew Michael Dasburg postcard to Grace Mott Johnson

Andrew Michael Dasburg postcard to Grace Mott Johnson, 1913 Mar. 15

Creator: Andrew Michael Dasburg

Andrew Dasburg, one the younger exhibitors, served as a volunteer docent to the Armory Show. He wrote this postcard to his wife, the sculptor Grace Mott Johnson on the last day of the show in New York. He confided, I feel that I have had about enough exhibit for a while. Too much of anything tends to lessen interest and so it is becoming with me here at the show. I find myself becoming more interested in the people than in the pictures.

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The Story of the Armory Show

Association of American Painters and Sculptors meeting minutes

Association of American Painters and Sculptors meeting minutes, 1911 Dec. 19-1912 Jan. 2

Creator: Walt Kuhn

As secretary of the Association of American Painters and Sculptors, Walk Kuhn recorded meeting minutes in this composition book. He recorded notes from the initial planning meeting on December 14, 1911 and for subsequent sessions.

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The Story of the Armory Show

J. Alden Weir letter to Henry Fitch Taylor

J. Alden Weir letter to Henry Fitch Taylor, 1912 Jan. 3

Creator: Julian Alden Weir

J. Alden Weir resigned his post as President of the newly-formed Association of American Painters & Sculptors because of a New York Times article that said the group was formed in opposition of the National Academy of Design. The Times piece, "Artists in Revolt, Form New Society," appeared on January 3, 1912. Weir resigned later that same day.

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The Story of the Armory Show

Arthur B. Davies letter to Walter Pach

Arthur B. Davies letter to Walter Pach, 1912 Oct. 2

Creator: Arthur B. (Arthur Bowen) Davies

Arthur B. Davies wrote to Walter Pach with logistical details pertaining to a painting for sale by Cezanne. He also discussed preparations for the Armory Show, mentioning that Walt Kuhn has traveled to Europe to see the Sonderbund exhibit in Cologne and to recruit artists to include their works.

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The Story of the Armory Show

Armory Show floor plan

Armory Show floor plan, 1912 Oct

Creator: Arthur B. (Arthur Bowen) Davies

Arthur B. Davies sketched a floor plan for the exhibition. As he noted at the bottom, This is to roughly indicate what's doing. Don't show to any one out side the family. The plan was completely redrawn by the time the show opened.

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The Story of the Armory Show

A list written by Pablo Picasso of European artists to be included in the 1913 Armory Show

A list written by Pablo Picasso of European artists to be included in the 1913 Armory Show, 1912

Creator: Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso recommended a list of artists to Walt Kuhn for the show. He used phonetic spellings. Among others, Picasso listed Marcel Duchamp, Fernand Léger, and Juan Gris.

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The Story of the Armory Show

Walt Kuhn letter to Walter Pach

Walt Kuhn letter to Walter Pach, 1912 Dec. 12

Creator: Walt Kuhn

In this letter from Walt Kuhn to Walter Pach, Kuhn discussed many planning details for the Armory Show. He says he thinks the show will be a success, financially and critically, mentions some of the European artists who will be included (Edvard Munch, the Duchamp-Villon brothers, Odilon Redon), and stresses the need for press and publicity.

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The Story of the Armory Show

Walt Kuhn, New York, N.Y. letter to Vera Kuhn

Walt Kuhn, New York, N.Y. letter to Vera Kuhn, 1912 Dec. 14

Creator: Walt Kuhn

In a letter to Vera, his wife, Kuhn predicted, This show, will be the greatest modern show ever given any where on earth, as far as regards high standard of merit. He also described the pine tree emblem to be used for stationery, catalogues, posters, and buttons.

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The Story of the Armory Show

Association of American Painters and Sculptors statement on the Armory Show

Association of American Painters and Sculptors statement on the Armory Show, 1913 Jan. 4

Creator: Association of American Painters and Sculptors (New York, N.Y.)

American Association of Painters and Sculptors issued this memo to urge artists to sound a distinctly personal note in their submissions. AAPS wished for American artists to emulate artists in the foreign exhibit with their distinct individuality of expression and forceful manifestation of the creative power.

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The Story of the Armory Show

Armory show entry form for Marcel Duchamp's painting Nude descending a staircase

Armory show entry form for Marcel Duchamp's painting Nude descending a staircase, not after 1913

Entry form for Marcel Duchamp's painting, Nude descending a staircase. Filled out by Walter Pach, the AAPS representative in Europe. He provided details for Duchamp's painting in French.

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The Story of the Armory Show

An overhead installation view of Gallery A at the Armory Show

An overhead installation view of Gallery A at the Armory Show, 1913

Interior View of the Armory Show from the Lexington Avenue entrance. The angle of this photograph enables viewers to study the arrangement of the temporary rooms that were erected.

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The Story of the Armory Show

Installation view of Gallery A in the Armory Show

Installation view of Gallery A in the Armory Show, 1913

This interior view depicts Gallery A, the American art section.

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The Story of the Armory Show

Invitation to the opening of the Armory Show

Invitation to the opening of the Armory Show, 1913

Creator: Association of American Painters and Sculptors (New York, N.Y.)

Invitation to the formal opening of the show on Monday, February 17, from 3 to 7 p.m.

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The Story of the Armory Show

Catalogue of the International Exhibition of Modern Art in New York

Catalogue of the International Exhibition of Modern Art in New York, 1913

Creator: Association of American Painters and Sculptors (New York, N.Y.)

The catalogue for the Armory Show in New York, NY. It cover features the emblem flag with its iconic pine tree. It includes a preface by critic Frederick James Gregg and a map of the exhibition floor with a key to what is on display in each area.

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The Story of the Armory Show

Armory show button and lapel pin

Armory show button and lapel pin, 1913

Creator: Association of American Painters and Sculptors (New York, N.Y.)

Organizers designed an emblem with a pine tree to promote the show. As Walt Kuhn explained the campaign button to his wife Vera, It will be about this size and very neat we are going to get them by the thousands give them to anybody from bums to bartenders – conductors etc. ought to make an immediate hit and get every body asking questions.

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The Story of the Armory Show

Armory Show postcard with reproduction of Marcel Duchamp's painting Nude Descending a Staircase

Armory Show postcard with reproduction of Marcel Duchamp's painting Nude Descending a Staircase, 1913

Creator: Association of American Painters and Sculptors (New York, N.Y.)

One of several postcards issued in commemoration of the Armory Show, featuring works from the exhibition. This card features Marcel Duchamp's painting Nude Descending a Staircase, 1913. Printed on verso: International exhibition; modern art; Association of American Painters and Sculptors; 69th Reg't Armory; 25th St. and Lexington Ave.; New York City; 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; February 18 to March 15, 1913.

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The Story of the Armory Show

Announcement card for materials on sale at the Armory Show

Announcement card for materials on sale at the Armory Show, 1913

Creator: Association of American Painters and Sculptors (New York, N.Y.)

Kuhn and the other organizers promoted the show through a variety of means. This card advertised the sale of fine photographic reproductions; color prints; post cards bearing reproductions of important exhibits; pamphlets on Cezanne, Redon, Gauguin; the architectures of Raymond Duchamp Villon, etc.

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The Story of the Armory Show

Walter Pach notebook

Walter Pach notebook, 1913 Mar.-Apr.

Creator: Walter Pach

Walter Pach maintained this notebook in spring 1913. In it, he recorded sales in March and April. He also noted addresses and expenses in the slim volume.

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The Story of the Armory Show

Walter Pach notebook recording sales at the New York Armory Show

Walter Pach notebook recording sales at the New York Armory Show, 1913 Feb. 18-Mar. 15

Creator: Walter Pach

In this small notebook, Walter Pach recorded sales during February 18-March 15. At the end of the book, he recorded names and addresses.

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The Story of the Armory Show

Armory Show beefsteak dinner menu signed by guests

Armory Show beefsteak dinner menu signed by guests, 1913 Mar. 8

Creator: Association of American Painters and Sculptors (New York, N.Y.)

Autographed menu of the dinner given by the AAPS. As the masthead announces, the AAPS addressed, "To our Friends and Enemies of the Press." The supper was held at Healy's restaurant a week before the Armory Show closed in New York.

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The Story of the Armory Show

F. Luis Mora pocket diary

F. Luis Mora pocket diary, 1913 Mar.

Creator: F. Luis (Francis Luis) Mora

Artist F. Luis Mora documented a range of subjects in his pocket diaries. He recorded details about his work on illustrations, paintings, and commissions. He also described shows that he attended and activities at the Architectural League, the Academy, and the Lotos Club. In his entries for March 1913, Mora commented on the contemporary art scene including his visit to the Armory Show. He wrote, "It was the purple hippopotamus in the rear tent that attracted the crowd at the 69th regiment Armory Show. That they call a successful art event. It was art-art in advertising." This is one of 242 monthly pocket diaries in Mora's papers.

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The Story of the Armory Show

Walt Kuhn scrapbook of press clippings documenting the Armory Show, vol. 2

Walt Kuhn scrapbook of press clippings documenting the Armory Show, vol. 2, 1913

Creator: Walt Kuhn

As secretary of the Association of American Painters and Sculptors, Walt Kuhn maintained the organization's records. He honed a well-developed archival instinct, preserving the materials for years. Among his papers, Kuhn kept several clippings files that contained published cartoons and articles about the show.

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The Story of the Armory Show

For and against: views on the international exhibition held in New York and Chicago

For and against: views on the international exhibition held in New York and Chicago, 1913

Creator: Association of American Painters and Sculptors (New York, N.Y.)

Frederick James Gregg edited and AAPS published this volume of essays. Authors critiqued the exhibition. Items included: a statement; The New York exhibition; Letting in the light (by Frederick James Gregg); Hindsight and foresight (by W.P.); The new art (by Kenyon Cox); The great confusion; Cubism by a Cubist (by Francis Picabia); As to Futurists; The Cubist room (by Walter Pach); Old and new art (by F.J. Mather.)

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The Story of the Armory Show

Association of American Painters and Sculptors Domestic Art Committee record book

Association of American Painters and Sculptors Domestic Art Committee record book, 1913

Creator: Association of American Painters and Sculptors (New York, N.Y.)

At the front of the volume, Walt Kuhn wrote, Armory Show work of the Committee on American Art It was intended to show only invited work, but owing to the great demand by the uninvited a committee has formed to select from submitted work the committee's record of rejection & selection is contained herein

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The Story of the Armory Show

Two photographs of Elmer L. MacRae

Two photographs of Elmer L. MacRae, 1893-1894

Elmer MacRae, a painter, served as the treasurer of the Association of American Painters and Sculptors and worked with Kuhn and Pach to organize the Armory Show.

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The Story of the Armory Show

Walt Kuhn holding palette and paintbrushes

Walt Kuhn holding palette and paintbrushes, 1904 or 1905

Walt Kuhn (1877-1949) was a watercolorist, lithographer, and etcher from New York, N.Y. As secretary of the Association of American Painters and Sculptors, Kuhn was a central figure in the organization of the Armory Show.

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The Story of the Armory Show

Walter Pach

Walter Pach, circa 1909

Creator: Pach Brothers

Walter Pach (1883-1958) was an artist, critic, historian, writer, art consultant, and curator from New York, N.Y. He was a promoter of modernist art and was instrumental in organizing the Armory Show, 1913. He wrote extensively on modern art.

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The Story of the Armory Show

Arthur B. Davies

Arthur B. Davies, ca. 1908

Creator: Gertrude Käsebier

Arthur B. Davies (1862-1928) was a painter from New York N.Y. As president of the Association of American Painters and Sculptors, Davies was one of the key figures involved in planning and organizing the Armory Show of 1913.

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The Story of the Armory Show

Armory Show artists and members of the press at the beefsteak dinner given by the Association of American Painters and Sculptors

Armory Show artists and members of the press at the beefsteak dinner given by the Association of American Painters and Sculptors, 1913 Mar. 8

Creator: Percy Rainford

Beefsteak Dinner hosted by AAPS at Healy's restaurant. According to Walt Kuh's handwritten notes on the photograph (by Percy Rainford): Individuals identified: seated at table in front: McCormick (press), Tucker, Townsend (Art news), Roy Macardle, ?, [illegible]. Second row: Davidson, Springan, Boroughs, Myers, Robertson, Bellows, Mahonri Young, McBride, Luks. Back row left to right: Kuhn, Gregg, Davies, Quinn, Pach, Clarke, Cortizos, Stieglitz, Kramer, Brinley, Boswell, Hoeber, Dion, Nankivell, Moger [or Moyer?], ?, Lawson, Ashwell, DuBois, Lawnik, Henri, Sloan.

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The Story of the Armory Show

Poster for the Armory Show 50th anniversary exhibition

Poster for the Armory Show 50th anniversary exhibition, 1963

This poster was used to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Armory Show in 1963. It features a detail of Marcel Duchamp's Nude descending a staircase. Duchamp autographed the poster. He signed in pencil ("Marcel Duchamp, 1913 + 50"), and inscribed the note: To Margaret Carlton, avec affection, Marcel Duchamp, 1963, 0/200.

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