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The Modern Art Invasion

Elizabeth Lunday

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1912 Paris salon of Gertrude and her brother Leo Stein, and her companion Alice B Toklas - apartment crammed with paintings - Picasso, Matisse, Cezanne, Renoir. Their older brother Michael, and his wife Sally, fixated on Matisse (they were the first ever buyers, of the artist, who was flat broke. Their purchase fed and clothed the matisse family that winter). Leo and Gertrude sponsored Picasso.

Basic tenet of art since the Renaissance that a painting is a window into a 3D space. Picasso abandoned that, so perspective shifts unpredictably. In his 1912 The Architect's Table, sometimes you look down from above, and sometimes you look at a right angle from the side.The Modern Art Invasion

A rival French school of painting centred around the Duchamp-Villon brothers. (Confusingly the 3 brothers each adopted different version of family surname - the eldest adopted psedonym Jacque Villon when dropped law to become an artist. The middle brother became Raymond Villon-Duchamp when he dropped medicine to become an artist. The youngest, Marcel Duchamp, was never going to be anything but an artist, so just kept his own name.)

Marcel's Nude Descending a Staircase was greeted with howls of outrage, bc a nude was 'supposed' to recline, not walk, and was meant to be static, and complete, not shown as a figure in action. Duchamp simply withdrew his painting and went off to train as a librarian.

The 1913 Armory Show was intended as a reaction to the restrictive hand of the American Art Academy, which insisted that the only good American paintings were imitations of mid C19 European Academic ones.

Collected a wide selection of avant garde Euro painters - Renoir, Monet, Degas Van Gogh, Cezanne, Picasso, Matisse, Duchamp. It showed American artists, including Edward Hopper, who sold his first painting.

Duchamp's Nude was the star of the show, as viewers tried to figure out what was a person and what was a stair.

Armory Show organizers were hoping it would be the foundation of a rival Academy to the traditional one, exhibiting new American artists. But the organization fell apart in factional rivalries. But what the Show actually achieved was even better - it opened public interest in a much wider range of Art, and encouraged a new generation of buyers to purchase it. It cerated a new market for Modern Art in America.

1917 formed Society of Modern Artists, with a radically open structure - any artist could simply pay entry fee and have his work displayed. "No jury. No prizes. Works hung in alphabetic order." To test that thesis, Duchamp submitted a brand new urinal, under the pseudonym R. Mutt, and titled Fountain. Caused an uproar - the committee voted to ban it as 'indecent'.

It was mainly a joke, a test of the committee's principles, but Duchamp also had a serious purpose - if a urinal cd be Art, then the definition of Art must be a lot broader than people thought. In fact, Duchamp described his 'readymades' as denying the possibility of being able to define Art.

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