I went to the NY Historical Society’s exhibit on the Park Ave Armory Show of 1913. It was a fascinating glimpse into –well- how little the world of art business has changed. With so many gadgets and technological advances, one would that think we, too, as a species would evolve as quickly. But, we don’t- and in this instance, it was a very reassuring feeling.
In 1913, the upheaval the show wrought to both the artistic illuminati and ladies who lunched not at all surprised the curators; in fact, they planned for it and tried to cull it in a very logical manner. For those unfamiliar with the show, essentially, the artistic community brought modern painting and sculpture – primarily from France – to NYC. The public were shocked with what they saw. (You can read more about it on NYHS site: http://armory.nyhistory.org/about/) However, in anticipation of this kerfuffle, the curators developed a strategic plan. The armory, for anyone who has been inside, is a huge space and the curators didn’t just hang up stuff randomly. They cut the room out into smaller exhibit rooms- starting from 1813 to the present day- all the while trying to clarify to the public that what one thought was shocking in 1813 is now the norm and who knows- maybe what is shocking in 1913 may be the norm in 2013 (which people thought was an insane conjecture! Matisse, Picasso, Duchamp? I mean- come on- who are these chumps?).
A less optimistic person may read this and say- Courtenay- how is this reassuring? I mean, these curators obviously tried to clarify to the audience their mission and still caused a stir! If you can’t please them…why try?
Well, I say- ever heard of Matisse, Picasso or Duchamp? And aren’t you glad you have?
Another interesting factor is how much the American curators desired illustrating American art with the European art. In other words, it was important for them to curate a comprehensive survey on Modern Art; a very novel and ambitious idea for a young country to partake. And, thank god they did- for the American public and artists were greatly influenced by the exhibit and art was never the same.
On November 22nd-23rd, “21C Liederabend,” curated by Paola Prestini, Executive Director of VIA, and Beth Morrison; produced by their companies, VIA, Beth Morrison Projects and with Trinity Wall Street; and, presented at BAM as part of their NEXT WAVE FESTIVAL, will present a similar survey of contemporary living composers from around the world. Using the traditional term to describe intimate parlor performances of song, this 21C Liederabend hopes to bring it into its modern guise. For you Schubert lovers out there, or Wagnerites, its our hope that when you do hear modern art song, you will reflect on what Schubert and Wagner were trying to do in their day and listen with open ears. We think you will like what you hear! For those who still have no idea what this “Liederabend” is, we think you will enjoy the ride! And, either way, shocking or not, we think that this world survey of song will illustrate that modern music is alive and well. Aren’t you the least bit curious to see what it’s all about?
Duchamp's Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2