Twenty years after the event, Katherine Dreier wrote that her museum was founded with gaiety.1 And yet with more than gaiety, for she had recorded earlier that "the serious works of serious men were shown and studied, and left to act as the desired leaven in the art world of the community."2 Miss Dreier has left small doubt that Marcel Duchamp was the central force. "Funds were only sufficient," she wrote, "to make a demonstration, [yet] Marcel Duchamp, with the help of Katherine S. Dreier, Andrew McLaren, Man Ray, and Henry Hudson, had the courage to incorporate this Museum of Modern Art as the Société Anonyme."3 It is said, in fact, that $6,000 comprised the total "funds" with which this historic project was launched.
This modest amount even then might have bought only one important modern picture by one of the recognized contemporary masters. But, whatever her announced plans of expansion and magnitude of operation, Miss Dreier actually operated, not in terms of huge collections and important buildings, but in terms of a continuing review of new developments. She was trying to provide the landing-field for new ideas which modern art, as a living thing, so urgently required.
The Société Anonyme opened on April 30, 1920, at 19 East 47th Street, in quarters so small that the first show was limited to sixteen paintings. It was almost like 291, which had been closed for three years, come to life again. That there was more than this one resemblance between the Dreier and the Stieglitz ventures, time would show.____________________