Based on the French Société des Artistes Indépendants, the goal of the society was to hold annual exhibitions by avant-garde artists. Exhibitions were to be open to anyone who wanted to display their work, and shows were without juries or prizes. Founders of the Society were Walter Arensberg, John Covert, Marcel Duchamp, Katherine Sophie Dreier, William J. Glackens, Albert Gleizes, John Marin, Walter Pach, Man Ray, John Sloan and Joseph Stella. The first show in 1916 displayed 2,000 pieces from artists around the world.
Marcel Duchamp, resigned as a director in 1917 after the Society refused to show his Fountain — a readymade in the form of a urinal and signed with his pseudonym, R. Mutt. The incident pointed out that the exhibition was not truly open. Society exhibitions continued into the 1940s with progressively fewer works and inferior quality.
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