The Modern World During and After the World Wars, C. 1914–1960

American Art and the Influence of Europe

What was the Armory Show?

In 1913, the Armory Show introduced America to European modernism. The Armory Show was actually called the “International Exhibition of Modern Art,” which was held at the 69th Regiment Armory in New York City. It was organized by the Association of American Painters and Sculptors and displayed a range of styles, from American realism to Impressionism to European modernism. Although European modernism made up a small portion of the art in the exhibition, it made shock waves among American viewers and critics. The fauve works by Matisse, and the Cubism of Picasso and Braque were highly criticized. Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending the Staircase was deemed to look like a pile of twigs. Despite this sensational backlash, which attracted thousands of visitors to both the New York and the additional Chicago location, the Armory Show made an unprecedented impact on American avant-garde artists and collectors, marking the beginning of modernism’s dominance of the American art scene throughout much of the twentieth century.


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