The exhibition, “The Armory Show at 100: Modern Art and Revolution,” at the New York Historical Society, is a don’t-miss, by any standard. The original show was organized in 1913 by the Association of American Painters and Sculptors and represented the first large-scale exhibition of modern art in the United States. So large scale, in fact, that the 1,300 paintings, works on paper, sculpture, and decorative arts had to be displayed in an unconventional space: New York City’s 69th Regiment Armory (located on Lexington Avenue, between 25th and 26th Streets). The exhibition introduced the American public to European modernity and a clutch of stylistic “-isms,” including Fauvism, Cubism, and Futurism. It shocked and provoked. It also marked a turning point in the country’s cultural life.
To celebrate the centennial, the New York Historical Society has reunited 100 masterworks (and secured some astounding loans), including truly iconic works by Matisse, Picasso, Gauguin, and Marcel Duchamp’s celebrated Nude Descending a Staircase. In short, it is an embarrassment of riches. But there is more: the 1913 exhibition was also a showcase for contemporary American art, largely realist in style, and it forms a part of the visual feast—and impact. The show runs through February 23; admission is by timed entry and booking is available in advance.
Mario R. Mercado is arts editor at Travel + Leisure.