Exhibition poster for the 1913 Armory Show, $24,000 (£19,000) at Case Auctions.

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The hugely successful event (best known today as the 1913 Armory Show although it also visited Chicago and Boston), introduced the US to Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Symbolism, Fauvism, Cubism and Modernism - and sparked the beginning of a US love affair with the European avant garde that continues today.

It was no accident that the logo chosen for the event was derived from the Revolutionary-era battle flag of Massachusetts. Just like in 1776, its insignia of an uprooted pine tree was proclaiming liberation from the past.

Extremely rare

Although familiar today through the many reissues and reproductions of later years, original printed memorabilia from ‘the most important art exhibition in American art history’ is extremely rare.

The array of souvenirs and ephemera that created huge interest at Case Auctions (20-22% buyer’s premium) in Nashville, Tennessee, on January 27-28 came by descent from the local Modern art collectors Peggy and David Steine. Their collection of pictures and sculptures was shown at The High Museum of Art, Atlanta, in 1967.

Offered in four lots, the most valuable elements of this archive were original printings of the event’s first catalogue and its official poster.


Views of the first edition catalogue for the 1913 International Exhibition of Modern Art, $14,000 (£11,100) at Case Auctions.

Unlike the later versions produced as single compact volumes for Chicago and Boston, the New York catalogue was an awkward, last-minute affair, published in four volumes including a supplement with corrections and late additions.

Published by the Association of American Painters and Sculptors and priced at 25 cents, it nonetheless features a full listing of the 300 exhibiting artists and approximately 1300 works, individual commentaries for the work of Cézanne and Redon and a plan of the exhibition floor. The third volume contains about 15 black and white photos, the only illustrations.

The preface by Frederick James Gregg, a newspaperman who worked as the publicity rep of the AAPS includes the sentence: “The foreign paintings and sculpture here shown are regarded by the committee of the association as expressive of the forces which have been at work abroad of late, forces which cannot be ignored because they have had results.”


Views of the first edition catalogue for the 1913 International Exhibition of Modern Art, $14,000 (£11,100) at Case Auctions.

Offered here in later custom green and gilt leather bindings, the Steine copy was estimated at $4000 but sold for $14,000 (£11,100).

The poster too, with the flag as the central image, was in very good condition. Measuring 20 x 14in (51 x 35.5cm), it lists as ‘guests’ a roll-call of names from ‘American & Foreign Art’. Estimated at up to $6000, it made $24,000 (£19,000).

Buy the merchandise


Part of a collection of 54 unused postcards illustrating works at the 1913 Armory show, sold at $8000 (£6300) at Case Auctions.

Much like today’s art blockbusters, the Armory Show offered visitors opportunities to buy merchandise based around the work they had seen.

Sold at $8000 (£6300) was a collection of 54 postcards acquired at the 1913 exhibition. The unused black and white postcards illustrate works at the show by artists including Picasso, Cézanne, Matisse, Kandinsky, Glackens, Bellows, Archipenko, and some lesser known at the time such as Jo Davidson and Mahonri Young. Each card has the exhibition information and the pine tree insignia verso.

Sold as a final lot for $1700 (£1350) was a framed montage combining invitations to both the press preview of the show on February 16, 1913 and the formal opening the following day plus two lapel buttons featuring the exhibition insignia.