The New Spirit and the Cos Cob Art Colony:
Before and After The Armory Show
From October 9, 2013 to January 12, 2014
As the centenary for the monumental 1913 International Exhibition of Modern Art (the Armory Show) approaches, the Greenwich Historical Society will mark this momentous historic milestone in American art with an exhibition exploring the involvement of and the effect on the exhibiting artists of the Cos Cob art colony.
The Armory Show exposed the American art world, the public, and the press to the progressive innovators of European art for the first time. Works from Paul Cézanne to Pablo Picasso were presented alongside a wide range of works by American artists. The introduction of their radical new ideas heralded a new aesthetic and a wider acceptance of Modernism, yet no exhibition to date has explored the direct effect that the Armory Show had on artists and their artistic production.
The New Spirit and the Cos Cob Art Colony will follow the story of the Armory show--and the results of exhibiting European art, both historic and ultra-modern--alongside American art. By highlighting selected works by the Cos Cob artists from before and after the Armory Show, this exhibition will illustrate how modernism became more widely assimilated into the mainstream of American art. The show will be comprised of about 40 works of art, including a few that were shown in the 1913 Armory Show, along with archival materials and ephemera from the Greenwich Historical Society, major museums and private collections.
The exhibition will focus on Cos Cob artists D. Putnam Brinley, Childe Hassam, Ernest Lawson, Elmer MacRae, Carolyn C. Mase, Frank A. Nankivell, Henry Fitch Taylor, Allen Tucker, Alden Twachtman and J. Alden Weir, and will look at the impact that the Armory Show had on those who continued to work after the exhibition. The exhibition will also include influential pioneering artists, Theodore Robinson and John H. Twachtman, whose work was included in the Armory Show but who had died years earlier.
A number of Greenwich-area artists played important roles in the actual production of the Armory Show: MacRae and Taylor were two of the four artists who conceived the idea for the exhibition in 1911; Brinley, Lawson, Tucker, and Weir were charter members of the Association of American Painters and Sculptors (AAPS), the organizing body of the Armory Show; and Brinley, Lawson, MacRae, Nankivell, Taylor, and Tucker all served as members of various committees.*
It is especially fitting for the Greenwich Historical Society to organize and mount this anniversary exhibition. Cos Cob artist Elmer MacRae, who lived and painted at the Historical Society’s Bush-Holley House, served as treasurer for the Armory Show, and the Greenwich Historical Society is a major repository for archival material from the Armory show as well as a major holder of works by MacRae, many of which will be on display.
A catalogue will accompany the exhibition with an essay by guest curator Valerie Ann Leeds.
The exhibition will complement related projects celebrating the Armory Show centennial being organized by other area institutions, such as The New-York Historical Society, the Archives of American Art, and the Montclair Art Museum, the Heckscher Museum of Art and the Phillips Collection, each of which focuses on a different aspect of this watershed event in the history of American art.
The Bush-Holley House is currently open to the public through guided tours. The house museum has a dual interpretation including documentation and presentation of two significant periods in the history of the house: the Colonial Period when the Bush family was in residence from 1790 to 1825 and the Cos Cob art colony from 1890 to 1920. Eight evocative, well-documented rooms tell a story of change over time, beginning with the turn of the century and moving backward in time to the Federal era.
Bush-Holley Historic Site is a member of the Connecticut Art Trail, a partnership of 15 world-class museums and historic sites across the state. Discover collections rich in history and heritage, including European masterpieces, American Impressionism, ancient art and contemporary culture. Visit www.arttrail.org for information about member museums.