A new film chronicles how a first-in-the-nation exhibition, 1913’s Armory Show, caused an uproar in America.
December 5, 2013
By Bob Keyes, Staff Writer
New England filmmakers Michael Maglaras and Terri Templeton have made a habit of making movies about art-world greats. They’ve made two films about Marsden Hartley, another about John Marin. They’re out with a new film about the landmark art exhibition of a century ago, the so-called Armory Show in New York City.
The exhibition marked the first time a large collection of modern art from Europe was shown in the United States. It created an uproar, heightened by an essay by former President Theodore Roosevelt, who derided the show as “repellent.”
The show was open for a month in New York, from Feb. 17 to March 15 at New York City’s 69th Regiment Armory. It was seen by tens of thousands of people, and provided mass exposure to European artists such as Cezanne, Renoir, Van Gogh and Marcel Duchamp, whose “Nude Descending a Staircase” was the exhibition’s lightning-rod painting.
It also exhibited works by the Americans Hartley and Marin and many others. The exhibition helped lead America into the modern era, Maglaras said.
“What I really like about this story is the whole concept of how long have we been asking the question, ‘What do you think about modern art?’ We’ve only been asking it 100 years, and it really started in February 1913 with people seeing stuff for the first time, like Picasso and Marcel Duchamp and the Cubists,” Maglaras said. “That question is really only 100 years old, but we have a tendency to think that it’s a much older question.”
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