Art historian to lecture on controversial ‘Armory Show’ artists

Don’t miss a lecture on “The Big Show” on Nov. 5, led by renowned art historian William C. Agee, who will describe the legacy of the 1913 International Exhibition of Modern Art — known as the Armory Show.

The lecture will place a special focus on the influence of Henri Matisse and Marcel Duchamp. It is well known that Mr. Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase was a source of outrage and bemusement at the groundbreaking event, but Mr. Matisse’s Red Studio was a target of equal abuse. In fact, works by Mr. Matisse covered an entire wall of the exhibition, while Mr. Duchamp exhibited only one. Mr. Matisse’s paintings generated so much controversy that he was actually hung in effigy.

Mr. Agee will compare Mr. Matisse’s impact on American art vis-à-vis Mr. Duchamp’s and discuss how Red Studio, in particular, galvanized such diverse artists as Stuart Davis, Charles Sheeler, Mark Rothko and Andy Warhol, inspiring them to explore dramatic new approaches to color and form. Mr. Agee will share examples of their work and talk about subsequent art exhibitions to shed new light on oft-forgotten aspects of the Armory Show’s legacy.

Mr. Agee’s lecture is being held in conjunction with the Historical Society’s current exhibition, The New Spirit and the Cos Cob Art Colony: Before and After the Armory Show. It includes more than 40 works by Cos Cob artists who exhibited in the Armory Show and illustrates the impact that the introduction of modern European art had on the subsequent work of American artists.

The Storehouse Gallery will be open from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. on the night of the event, followed by the lecture from 7:30 to 8:45 p.m., at the Greenwich Historical Society. The cost is $10 for members and $15 for nonmembers. For reservations visit or call 203-869-6899, ext. 10.

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