Modern Art Turns 100


Modern art arrived in America a century ago with the International Exhibition of Modern Art at the 69th Infantry Regiment Armory in New York City. The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., commemorates that with an exhibition of paintings and sculptures by many of the artists whose work was featured in that original Armory Show (though almost none of the specific entries that appeared there).

The 1913 exhibition introduced 1,200 paintings and sculptures from nearly 300 artists, many of them now icons, including Picasso, Matisse, Rodin, and Cezanne. Young coal-mining heir Duncan Phillips hated much of what he saw, denouncing it as "stupefying and vulgar" and decrying the "Post-Impressionists and Cubists, the Futurists, Dadaists and Heaven only knows" as the "performing pets" of fashionable "faddists." Within a decade, Phillips came to appreciate the new visual arts liberated from the canons of strict realism and would go on to avidly collect works by many of the artists from the seminal show.