Lyons Press, an imprint of Globe Pequot Press, is proud to announce the release of THE MODERN ART INVASION: Picasso, Duchamp, and the 1913 Armory Show, by Elizabeth Lunday (October 5, 2013, 978-0-7627-9017-3; $26.95 hardcover), the scandalous story behind New York’s 1913 Armory Show, the most important art exhibition in American history, which introduced Picasso, Matisse, Duchamp, and Modernism to America.
The New York art scene in 1910 lagged forty years behind the times. Fast-forward another forty years, and New York dominates the art world. So how did the city transform from dull and provincial to vibrant and essential?
Thank the Armory Show, the most important art exhibit in U.S. history. Held at Manhattan’s 69th Regiment Armory in 1913, the show brought modernism to America in an unprecedented display of 1,300 works by artists including Picasso, Matisse, and Duchamp, A quarter of a million Americans visited the show; most couldn’t make sense of what they were seeing. Newspaper critics questioned the artists’ sanity and suggested a stay in the psychopathic ward at Bellevue as the best preparation for viewing the exhibition.
The Armory Show went on to Boston and Chicago and its effects spread across the country. American artists embraced a new spirit of experimentation as conservative art institutions lost all influence. New modern art galleries opened to serve collectors interested in buying the most progressive works. Over time, the stage was set for American revolutionaries such as Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Roy Lichtenstein, and Andy Warhol. Today, when museums of modern and contemporary art dot the nation and New York reigns as art capital of the universe, we live in a world created by the Armory Show.
Elizabeth Lunday, author of the breakout hit Secret Lives of Great Artists, tells the story of the exhibition from the perspectives of organizers, contributors, viewers, and critics. Brimming with fascinating and surprising details, the book takes a fast-paced tour of life in America and Europe, peering into Gertrude Stein’s famous Paris salon, sitting in at the fabulous parties of New York socialites, and elbowing through the crowds at the Armory itself.
Elizabeth Lunday is the author of Secret Lives of Great Composers and Secret Lives of Great Artists, which has sold over 25,000 copies and been translated into eight languages. She wrote mental floss’s Masterpieces column for six years, has written for ScientificAmerican.com, and has appeared on PRI’s Here and Now. She lives in Texas.