Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Armory Show

The Art Institute of Chicago has online a virtual trek through the 1913 International Exhibition of Modern Art, the exhibition known as the Armory Show, which introduced American audiences to new directions in painting and sculpture. The museum also has the show’s catalogue and other documents available as free PDFs. Not to be missed: The Cubies’ A B C, a contemporary sendup of Matisse, Picasso, Stein, and others, words by Mary Mills Lyall, illustrations by Earl Harvey Lyall. A sample:

P’s for Picasso, Picabia and Party
    (Who deal in abstractions, distractions and such.)
When, with vision chaotic and expletives hearty,
You beg of a Cubie their sense to impart, he
    Profoundly makes answer: “In little is much.”
—P’s for Picasso, Picabia and Party.

[Making light of Picabia in general and Picasso’s Head of a Woman (Fernande) in particular.]

Did “Picasso, Picabia and Party” inspire “Parker, Pound, or Picasso,” Philip Larkin’s encapsulation of all that he loathed in music, writing, and art? My guess is not likely : Larkin was a thoroughgoing provincial, and capable of derisive alliteration on his own. How provincial? From his 1982 Paris Review interview: “Who is Jorge Luis Borges?”


March 1: The Cubies’ A B C has been reprinted.

[The phrase “Parker, Pound, or Picasso” appears in All What Jazz: A Record Diary (1985). Did you know that the 1913 exhibition traveled to New York, Chicago, and Boston? Me neither.]

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