In a new review in the Wall Street Journal, The New Criterion’s James Panero discusses the Montclair Art Museum’s exhibit, “The New Spirit: American Art in the Armory Show, 1913.” The exhibit celebrates the famous and controversial 1913 show by focusing primarily on the oft-overlooked American artists whose work represented two-thirds of the art on display.
In the piece, James explains how the show’s original mission – “to be an exhibition displaying the wide range of American art of the time, from the realism of the Ashcan School to the experiments of the Stieglitz-circle” – was overshadowed by Duchamp, Picasso, Matisse, and the other European Modernists. “Montclair,” James writes, is therefore on “something of a revisionist mission.” With this exhibit, the museum hopes to challenge the conventional view that, in the words of the curator, “the American art in the Armory Show was somewhat monolithic, pallidly provincial, and overshadowed by the uproar of critical and popular attention paid to the avant-garde Europeans.”
So how do the Americans look in hindsight? Read the article to find out. The review is part of James’s ongoing commentary on the centenary of the 1913 Armory Show. Listen to James discuss the Armory Show with John Hockenberry and Barbara Haskel NPR’s The Takeaway here, and read James’s earlier reflection on the legacy of the Armory Show from the December issue of The New Criterion here.