The Armory Show and Hitler’s Degenerate Art Show
From paintings to sculptures, both realistic and modern, the International Exhibition of Modern Art at the 69th Infantry Regiment Armory was the first modern art show to arrive in America to exhibit works by Americans and Europeans alike. Opening its doors on February 17 of 1913, the exhibit astonished many New Yorkers with the modern style coming out of Europe. As many as 88,000 people attended the Armory Show, the most to ever attend an art show in New York. Fast-forward 24 years to a country struggling to identify itself after losing a World War, Germany needed guidance to run a successful country and win its people’s approval. As Adolf Hitler gained power in Germany, he needed the country to back him in his beliefs, and he did so through propaganda. One of Hitler’s propaganda ploys was an art show exhibiting art by “leftists,” and their rejection of traditional and their willingness to “taint” art, the Modernists. Hitler called this art exhibit The Degenerate Art Show, opening on July 19 of 1937. Both exhibits were showing works of art that today are in art history books and are known worldwide, but both shows had different agendas. People attending the Armory Show saw over 1,300 pieces by over 300 artists including Matisse, Picasso, Cezanne, van Gogh, Monet, and Duchamp. Many other Americans and Europeans were represented in the exhibit and most had spent a lot of time in Europe, exposing them to the avant-garde art of Europe. Many pieces were bought by collectors and gave a push for the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art to purchase works. News reports and reviews were filled with accusations of quackery, insanity, immorality, and anarchy, and even a condemning statement from the President of the United States at the time, Theodore Roosevelt, stating that “this was not art!” Paintings like Nude Descending a Staircase by Marcel Duchamp was a example of people misinterpretation of the modern art...
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