The 291 GalleryLest one get the mistaken impression that the Armory Show of 1913 introduced America for the first time to Avant-Garde art, it must be said that this was hardly the case. That distinction belongs to photographer and gallery owner Alfred Stieglitz and his 291 Gallery in New York City. America in fact, was not without its own burgeoning group of Modernists in the artists Stieglitz championed--Max Weber, John Marin, Arthur Dove, Marden Hartley, and of course Georgia O'Keeffe. As a group they had little in common stylistically or philosophically, only an interest in Modernism.
291 Gallery introduced Americans to the Modernism of painting, sculpture, and especially photography in the work of Steiglitz himself, and his partner, Edward Steichen. Here also were the first exhibitions in the U.S. of Rodin, CÚzanne, Matisse, Rousseau, and the first American showing of the work of Picasso as early as 1911. Later, the work of Brancusi and Braque also found its way to Stieglitz's showcase. These works drew much attention, huge crowds, and the outrage of many critics complaining that insanity, anarchy, and outrage had beset American Art. But the effect of Stieglitz's spotlight on Modern Art reached far beyond the narrow streets and minds of New York City. His impressive national publication Camera Work planted Modern Art in the fertile soil of the American creative genius for years after 291 Gallery was a thing of the past.
Contributed by Lane, Jim
10 November 1997