1913 Armory Show

The Smithsonian Institution's Archives of American Art commemorates the centennial of the International Exhibition of Modern Art, known as the 1913 Armory Show. It was the first major exhibition of European modern art in the U.S. The show opened in New York in February and traveled to Chicago in March and Boston in April. The Archives holds the official records of the Association of American Painters and Sculptors (AAPS), the group who organized it. The Archives also holds the papers of key organizers. This timeline features more than 150 primary sources from these and other materials. The letters, telegrams, minutes of meetings, memos, and other documents offer insight into the development and presentation of the show. Many reveal details about the organizers; others provide information about how artists, critics, and others responded to the exhibition.

1911-12-14 00:00:00

Early Meeting of Association of American Painters and Sculptors (AAPS)

Four artists assembled at the Madison Gallery in New York City to discuss the contemporary art scene in the United States.

1911-12-15 00:00:00

Letter to Vera from New York

Walt Kuhn, an artist, wrote to Vera, his wife who was staying with her mother in Chevy Chase, Maryland. He was in New York for a show of his work at the Madison Gallery. In this letter, he shared some of the earliest details of his ambitious plans for a society and an exhibition devoted to modern art. He wrote,

1911-12-19 12:37:55

AAPS Convened

Henry Fitch Taylor, an artist who managed the Madison Gallery, invited more than a dozen other artists (all men) to meet at the gallery at 305 Madison Avenue. These men formed the core of what became the Association of American Painters and Sculptors (AAPS).

1912-01-02 00:00:00

AAPS Convened

Fourteen members of AAPS assembled. They nominated men, and discussed a draft of the constitution.

1912-01-03 00:00:00

News of 'Revolt'

The New York Times published an article about the formation of AAPS on page two of the daily newspaper.

1912-01-03 09:00:00

Weir Resigned

J. Alden Weir resigned his post as President of the newly-formed AAPS because of an article in The New York Times that said the group was founded in opposition of the National Academy of Design.

1912-04-19 00:00:00

Negotiated Use of the 69th Regiment Armory

On behalf of AAPS, Walt Kuhn entered into negotiations with Col. Louis D. Conley to lease the 69th Regiment Armory for $5,000 plus a $500 fee for additional personnel.

1912-05-06 00:00:00

Formal Lease for the 69th Regiment Armory

Col. Conley issued the formal agreement to lease the facility from February 15 to March 15, 1913.

1912-07-31 00:00:00

AAPS Directors Met

AAPS convened the first regular meeting of directors at 59 W 39th Street, New York. They elected officers and members of the incorporation.

1912-08-01 00:00:00

AAPS Looked to Europe

AAPS leadership looked abroad to developments in contemporary art and exhibitions as they planned their show for the United States. By August 1912, they decided to dispatch Walt Kuhn to tour Europe. Kuhn's itinerary included major exhibitions and major art capitals.

1912-08-23 00:00:00

Schamberg Mentioned AAPS to Walter Pach

American artists learned about the exhibition and shared the news with each other. Morton Schamberg, a Philadelphia-based artist wrote to Walter Pach in Paris.

1912-09-02 00:00:00

Planned Trip to Europe

Arthur B. Davies, an authority on important works in Europe, wrote to Walt Kuhn and that suggested that Kuhn talk to August Deusser, a painter and one of the planners of the Sonderbund exhibition. Davies hoped, "I wish we could have as good a show as the Cologne Sonderbund."

1912-09-23 00:00:00

Kuhn's Itinerary

Arthur B. Davies advised Walt Kuhn about his trip. As Davies described artists and art movements in Europe, Kuhn wished to see for himself. They corresponded while Kuhn was on a painting trip in Nova Scotia.

1912-09-25 00:00:00

Letter to Vera aboard Ship

When Walt Kuhn traveled, he corresponded faithfully with Vera. The letters he wrote while in Europe in 1912 allow us to learn about his preparations for the exhibition.

1912-09-30 00:00:00

Kuhn Visited Sonderbund

At Arthur B. Davies's suggestion, Walt Kuhn traveled to Cologne to view the Internationale Kunstausstellung des Sonderbundes Westdeutscher Kunstfreunde und Künstler zu Cöln, 1912.

1912-09-30 00:00:00

Postcard to Vera from Cologne

Kuhn briefly reviewed the Sonderbund exhibit ("great show") and mentioned his meeting with Edvard Munch. He observed, "Van Gogh and Gaugin great! Cézanne didn’t hit me so hard."

1912-10-02 00:00:00

Davies Letter to Pach

Arthur B. Davies addressed a number of matters with Walter Pach. This letter offers insight into how the organizers collaborated and divided tasks.

1912-10-02 00:00:00

Letter to Vera from Cologne

Walt Kuhn composed an 11-page letter to Vera. This letter offers a contemporaneous account of his experience of the Sonderbund and its significance.

1912-10-04 00:00:00

Letter to Walt Kuhn with Flooplan

Arthur B. Davies wrote Walt Kuhn after receiving two letters from him. Davies updated Kuhn on plans and press reactions. Davies included a diagram of the layout of the show and asked, "Please make suggestions and practical improvements. It has made some eyes bulge."

1912-10-05 12:37:55

Postcard to Vera from Düsseldorf

Walt Kuhn explained to Vera that he was en route to Holland via Düsseldorf. He traveled in pursuit of Cézannes, Van Goghs, and other paintings. After Holland, he planned a trip to Berlin, and estimated his arrival in Paris by November 1.

1912-10-07 00:00:00

Postcards to Vera from The Hague

On October 7, Walt Kuhn wrote to Vera from The Hague. He informed her of his success: "6 to 10 Van G[ogh]'s" and his plans to head to Amsterdam. From Amsterdam, he reported on a "dandy restaurant" and his four hour layover en route to Berlin via a sleeper train.

1912-10-08 00:00:00

Postcard to Vera from Berlin

On the morning of his arrival in Berlin, Kuhn jotted a note promising to write later and reported that he had heard from Pach in Paris that everything is "o.k."

1912-10-08 18:00:00

Letter to Vera from Berlin

Walt Kuhn's correspondence with Vera offers insight into the challenges of making a major tour for the exhibition. Walt Kuhn wrote a lengthy letter to Vera from Berlin. In it, he wrote of his travels and accommodations in Cologne, The Hague, and Berlin. In comic, poetic and occasionally problematic terms, he discussed the people and places he visited. He also explained his efforts to secure works to exhibit, in particular his search for works by Van Gogh and Cézanne.

1912-10-09 00:00:00

Postcard to Vera from Berlin

The pace of the trip wore on Walt Kuhn as he pursued art and artists.

1912-10-10 12:37:55

Davies Letter to Kuhn

Arthur B. Davies, in New York, wrote to Walt Kuhn, in Germany. Davies discussed preliminary plans for the exhibition. Davies updated Kuhn about the lease arrangements public relations, and artist participation. He compared their efforts to those of others in England.

1912-10-10 12:37:55

Picasso's List

Organizers consulted an array of experts about what to exhibit in New York. Pablo Picasso recommended a list of artists for the show. He used phonetic spellings. Among others, Picasso listed Marcel Duchamp, Fernand Léger, and Juan Gris.

1912-10-15 12:37:55

Postcard to Vera from Munich

Walt Kuhn wrote to Vera of his arrival in Munich. He observed, "Finally 'wedged my way in' in Berlin. Everything o.k. Success now assured. Hope that the NY end is not being neglected."

1912-10-16 12:37:55

Postcard to Vera from Munich

Walt Kuhn dashed off a note from a new cafe in Munich. Another correspondent greeted Vera Kuhn in German.

1912-10-16 12:37:55

Letter to Vera from Munich

In correspondence with Vera, Walt Kuhn's vacillated between exuberance and confidence, and frustration and disappointment. In a lengthy letter to Vera, Kuhn discussed the challenges he encountered in Berlin and his interactions with various artists and dealers.

1912-10-18 12:37:55

Postcard to Vera from Munich

Walt Kuhn shared disappointments with Vera in this postcard. He complained that Zügel, an artist, has not progressed in his work since they last met, and he lamented, "Munich is absolutely dead as an art city. They haven't kept pace with the times at all-After having once again looked over my old haunts, the charm is gone, and I will not be sorry to go away."

1912-10-23 12:37:55

Postcard to Vera from Munich

Walt Kuhn exclaimed, "It's snowing!" at the outset of this postcard. He proceeded to share his frustrations about the trip with Vera.

1912-10-23 12:37:55

Postcard to Vera from Munich

As Walt Kuhn concluded business in Munich, he wrote to Vera. He rested because he was "down and out after Cologne and Berlin."

1912-10-25 20:37:55

Letter to Vera from Paris

Walt Kuhn arrived in Paris on a rainy Friday evening.

1912-10-28 12:37:55

Letter to Vera from Paris

Walt Kuhn brimmed with optimism and pride in a letter to his wife.

1912-11-01 00:00:00

Instructions to Pach

This letter illustrates the ways in which the principal organizers collaborated and divided responsibilities. Arthur B. Davies and Walt Kuhn wrote detailed instructions to Walter Pach.

1912-11-06 00:00:00

Letter to Vera from Paris

Walt Kuhn reviewed his working relationship with Arthur B. Davies and reported with great confidence that their efforts would result in a new movement.

1912-11-11 00:00:00

Letter to Vera from Paris

Walt Kuhn wrote to Vera and discussed traveling in Europe with Arthur B. Davies, going to London to secure funding and artworks for the exhibition; mentioned working with the Art Institute of Chicago; and made comparisons between their show and the Sonderbund in Cologne. He expressed his desire to return home.

1912-11-15 00:00:00

Fry's Exhibition at Grafton Galleries

Walt Kuhn and Arthur B. Davies left Paris for London to visit an exhibition organized by Roger Fry, a British artist and critic. Fry's "Second Post-Impressionist Exhibition" was held at Grafton Galleries and featured many artists Kuhn and Davies were pursuing for their exhibition in New York.

1912-11-16 00:00:00

Review of Fry's Exhibition

Walt Kuhn wrote a two page letter to Walter Pach in which he reviewed the show at the Grafton Gallery.

1912-11-19 00:00:00

Postcard to Vera from Paris

Walt Kuhn reported to Vera about his activities with Arthur B. Davies who had just arrived in Paris. Kuhn laced superlatives throughout his account.

1912-11-19 00:00:00

Identified Desirable Matisses and Picassos

As Walt Kuhn visited galleries in Paris and London he identified artists and their work for inclusion in the International Exhibition of Modern Art. Upon consulting a London catalogue, Kuhn listed items by Matisse and Picasso.

1912-11-19 00:00:00

Kuhn Letter to Pach

Walt Kuhn wrote a five page letter answering concerns raised by Walter Pach. Kuhn and Pach deliberated about shipping and handling of the loans they had secured from European patrons.

1912-11-20 00:00:00

Davies Postcard to Vera

Arthur B. Davies wrote a postcard to Vera Kuhn. He included a playful reference to her husband's dress and facial hair.

1912-12-01 00:00:00

Tasks Assigned

AAPS divided tasks among themselves. They formed committees to handle the following responsibilities: the foreign and domestic sections; reception and publicity; catalogue and general printing; and publications. They oversaw such details as: admissions, tickets, reception staff; security; hanging and art handling; printing of 50,000 catalogues, as well as cards, posters, pamphlets, buttons, and invitations; entertainment at the opening and closing; and concessions. They developed a publicity campaign that included the distribution of postcards and posters in New York and throughout urban centers in the U.S.

1912-12-01 00:00:00

Artists Invited

Circular invited professional and non-professional artists to submit work for consideration for the "First International Exhibition."

1912-12-01 12:37:55

Artist Redon Offered Advice

Walter Pach discussed a wide-ranging set of issues with Odilon Redon, a French artist. In his handwritten notes, Pach recorded the advice and recollections that Redon shared with him in a conversation during December 1912. Redon had 39 entries in the International Exhibition of Modern Art including oil paintings, pastels, and lithographs.

1912-12-06 00:00:00

Matisse Loaned Paintings

Henri Matisse wrote to Walter Pach about his entries for the exhibition. Matisse agreed to lend seven paintings as they discussed.

1912-12-06 12:37:55

Loans Negotiated

Walter Pach used his connections in Paris to secure important art for the exhibition. Émile Druet lent more than 100 works.

1912-12-12 00:00:00

Kuhn Letter to Pach

Walt Kuhn discussed many planning details with Walter Pach. He anticipated that the show would be a success, financially, and critically.

1912-12-12 12:00:00

Duchamp-Villon Bros. Used in Publicity

Marcel Duchamp and his brothers Jacques Villon and Raymond Villon-Duchamp posed with Villon's dog, Pipe, in Villon's studio's garden in Puteaux, France.

1913 Armory Show

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