Modern Art USA: Men, Rebellion, Conquest, 1900-1956

By Rudi Blesh | Go to book overview

4. Rebellion in an Amory

It all started quietly enough.

In 1911, Walt Kuhn, an American painter and caricaturist, met with two painters, Jerome Myers and Elmer MacRae. Kuhn proposed a large show of progressive American art, together with "a few of the radical things from abroad to create additional interest."1 What was meant by "progressive" was far from the Fauvism of Maurer, the cubism of Weber and Marin, and the Matisse-like free drawing of Walkowitz, all of them by that time home in America. The word meant to Kuhn and the other two the impressionism of men like Ernest Lawson, Maurice Prendergast, and Childe Hassam and the "realism" of Henri, Bellows, and the Ash Can painters.

Myers and MacRae agreed with Kuhn; they prepared a list of artists and approached them. The response was good, and an organization called the Association of American Painters and Sculptors was set up, with painter J. Alden Weir as president, sculptor Gutzon Borglum as vice-president, and Kuhn as secretary. The original membership of about twenty- five included old warriors like Henri, Glackens, and Sloan of The Eight and somewhat younger men like Bellows and Jo Davidson. It was not a particularly young group, however ( Kuhn was thirty-one, Weir, fifty-nine; nor was it remarkably insurgent.

Enthusiasm rode high until the difficulties of arranging and financing a large show were encountered. Weir then resigned, and in 1912, with the project almost abandoned, Arthur B. Davies was persuaded by Kuhn to take hold. Davies, one of The Eight, was a recluse, a mystic of sorts--all in all,

____________________
1
This and all succeeding quotations by Kuhn are from his twenty-eight- page pamphlet The Story of the Armory Show (privately printed, New York, 1938).

-41-

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Modern Art USA: Men, Rebellion, Conquest, 1900-1956
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations viii
  • 1. the World Stirs in Its Sleep 3
  • 2. Home Life on the Other Side of the Moon 9
  • 3. Plot in an Attic 23
  • 4. Rebellion in an Amory 41
  • 5. Aftermath 57
  • 6. Independents' Day 68
  • 7. Dada and Despair 85
  • 8. Modern Art's First Museum 103
  • 9. Art in a Skyscraper 114
  • 10. the Artist is the Man Next Door 131
  • Ii. Passage to Permanence 145
  • 12. Termite, Time Capsule, and Pedestal 162
  • 13. Isms and Wasms 185
  • 15. Go West, Young Art, Go West 222
  • 16. Arriving 241
  • 17. Presences 262
  • 18. the Present 282
  • Index i
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