See M. Brown, The Story of the Armory Show (1963, repr. 1988).
Exhibition of painting and sculpture held in 1913 at the 69th Regiment Armory in New York City. Conceived by its organizers, the Association of American Painters and Sculptors, as a selection of works exclusively by U.S. artists, it evolved into a comprehensive look at current European art movements, due in part to the advanced vision of association president Arthur B. Davies. Of the 1,300 works assembled, one-third were European, tracing the evolution of modern art from Francisco de Goya to Marcel Duchamp and Vasily Kandinsky, with works representative of Impressionism, Symbolism, Post-Impressionism, Fauvism, and Cubism. Perhaps the most controversial work was Duchamp's nearly abstract Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2 (1912). The U.S. artists featured were mainly members of the Ash Can school and The Eight. The show exposed the American public for the first time to advanced European art; American art suffered by contrast. The exhibition traveled to Chicago and Boston, establishing itself as a decisive event in the development of U.S. art and art collecting.
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Many exhibitions have been held in the vast spaces of U.S. National Guard armories, but the Armory Show refers to the International Exhibition of Modern Art that opened in New York City's 69th Regiment Armory, on Lexington Avenue between 25th and 26th Streets, on February 17, 1913, ran to March 15, and became a legendary watershed date in the history of American art, introducing astonished New Yorkers, accustomed to realistic art, to modern art. The show served as a catalyst for American artists, who became more independent and created their own "artistic language".
News reports and reviews were filled with accusations of quackery, insanity, immorality, and anarchy, as well as parodies, caricatures, doggerels and mock exhibitions. About the modern works, President Theodore Roosevelt declared, "That's not art!!!" The civil authorities did not, however, close down, or otherwise interfere with, the show.
Among the scandalously radical works of art, pride of place goes to Marcel Duchamp's Cubist/Futurist style Nude Descending a Staircase, painted the year before, in which he expressed motion with successive superimposed images, as in motion pictures. An art critic for the New York Times wrote that the work resembled "an explosion in a shingle factory," and cartoonists satirized the piece.
However, the purchase of Paul Cézanne's Hill of the Poor (View of the Domaine Saint-Joseph) by the Metropolitan Museum of Art signaled an integration of modernism into the established New York museums, but among the younger artists represented, Cézanne was already an established master.
Duchamp's brother, who went by the "nom de guerre" Jacques Villon, also exhibited, sold all his Cubist drypoint etchings, and struck a sympathetic chord with New York collectors who supported him in the following decades.
The exhibition went on to show in Chicago and Boston.
Armory shows after 1913