In America on this date 100 years ago, March 9th, 1913…

…attorney and art collector John Quinn, 43, returns yet again to the Armory Show to buy another lithograph by the late Paul Gauguin, for $6. The night before, Quinn and the show’s organizers, the American Association of Painters & Sculptors [AAPS] had hosted a ‘beefsteak’ party at Healy’s Restaurant, 66th Street and Columbus Avenue, for their ‘friends and enemies’ in the press. Whether they had praised or trashed the artwork, critics were invited from Century magazine, the Sun, the Globe, the World, the Post, American Art News, and Arts & Decoration, which had devoted an entire issue to the show. The artists picked up the tab for the party—$234 for the whole night. Here’s a menu signed by all the participants, featuring one of the most controversial pieces, Nude Descending a Staircase, by Marcel Duchamp, 25:

An autographed menu from the Armory Show's 'Beefsteak dinner'

An autographed menu from the Armory Show’s ‘Beefsteak dinner’

Even the waitresses joined in the singing and dancing. Joke telegrams were read out from American art collector and contributor to the show, Gertrude Stein, 39, and British founder of the London Post-Impressionist shows, Roger Fry, 46. One of the most vicious critics, from the Tribune, ended his remarks with ‘It was a good show, but don’t do it again.’

A few days before, as the new American president, Woodrow Wilson, 56, took his oath office, former President Theodore Roosevelt, 54, visited the Armory escorted by Quinn, and was heard roaring ‘Bully!’ in front of the pictures.

The AAPS had just received confirmation that the Chicago Art Institute wants to put on the show, but only the most radical works. It’s due to open there before the end of the month, so Quinn comes back often to buy up more treasures.

Advertisements