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69th Regiment Armory during the 1913 International Exhibition of Modern Art in New York. Walt Kuhn, Walt Kuhn Family papers, and Armory Show records, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

“The Armory Show at 100”

The New York Historical Society

69th Regiment Armory during the 1913 International Exhibition of Modern Art in New York. Walt Kuhn, Walt Kuhn Family papers, and Armory Show records, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

A PHOTO OF BOXY AUTOMOBILES parked on Lexington Avenue in front of the 69th Regiment Armory in New York reveals the excitement that greeted the beyond-famous, dramatically transformative Armory Show. The day of the exhibition’s opening, February 17, 1913, some four thousand visitors turned out for an overview of international developments in contemporary art; by show’s end, some eighty thousand visitors had seen it. Though intended to promote American art, the Armory Show also embraced the radical avant-garde in Europe—at the time, still largely unseen in the United States—and ultimately effected a cataclysmic shift in American aesthetic sensibility. Any effort to demonstrate American parity with European achievements on the cusp of World War I went by the board.

Another photograph depicts the show’s interior, setting several works directly in the viewer’s sight line.

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